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Published Tuesday June 16th, 2009 at 9:45am

Original Article by Margie Boule

When Sib Hall read in this column recently about the Oregon woman who learned she was adopted at birth and separated from a twin sister at that time, Sib wrote, "I know exactly how she feels."

Sib lives in Vancouver. Like the Oregon woman I wrote about, Sib and her twin were separated soon after birth.

"As I grew up, I was always told I was adopted," Sib says. She also was told she had an identical twin. "But we thought she had died."

Sib's twin had been born with serious medical problems. "But I didn't want to believe she had died. So I grew up looking for myself. I'd always look in crowds. When you know you're an identical twin, there's something missing."

Sib and her twin were born in December 1953 in Throckmorton, Texas, to an immigrant family. They had come from Spain and become U.S. citizens.

Sib's parents, whose last name was Valdez, were migrant workers with many children. The local postmaster and his wife, Don and Louise Morrison, knew they were a poor family, Sib says. After the twins were born prematurely, Louise brought formula every day. "My birth mother was very ill and the family was very poor."

Don and Louise "started falling in love with us," Sib says. They wanted to adopt the twins, Sib says, but her birth parents said no.

"Finally they consented. But they said, 'We want to keep the sick one until she dies,' " which they thought would be soon.

"So (Don and Louise) took me home," Sib says, "at 6 weeks old. The adoption went through five months later. "And literally the next day, my birth family moved out of town. No one knew where."

Sib says she never felt a need to find her birth family. "I was so happy where I was. But when I turned 16, I went to Mother and Daddy and said, 'I'm ready to find her grave.' My parents were so supportive and loving."

About a year later Sib's parents drove into a small Texas town and remembered that Sib had a biological aunt in that town. But they didn't remember her name. "So they stopped at a phone booth and looked at every name (in the phone book). And one name jumped out."

Sib's parents called the woman. "She said, 'Oh my goodness, I'm her aunt. The twin is alive. I have pictures.' "

Even today, nearly 40 years later, Sib cries when she talks about finding her twin, Odie.

Sib told friends at school, who surprised her by taking up a collection for a plane ticket. Sib wrote a letter of invitation to her twin, who lived in Minnesota.

"I had to think a long, hard time about that letter," Sib says. "I didn't know if she even knew I existed." Sib was nervous. "Odie always laughs at me, because one of my first questions was, 'What is your birthday?' "

Odie flew to Texas for a visit. Sib will never forget the day they met, three days before their 18th birthday at the Greyhound bus station in Wichita Falls, Texas. They ran toward each other. "We hit so hard we fell on the ground."

Odie stayed with Sib's family for six weeks and attended Sib's high school. "We had a blast. We dressed alike every day."

No one could tell them apart. "It's so weird. When we'd hold hands, you couldn't tell which hand was yours."

Later Sib visited her birth family, but it was weird. "I looked like them, but I didn't feel anything," perhaps because they spoke little English.

But Odie was fluent in English, and the twins stayed close. After their birth parents died in the 1970s, Odie became close to Sib's parents in Texas.

Odie and her husband settled in Colorado; Sib and her husband, in the Northwest. They spoke every day on the phone until last summer.

"She was diagnosed with leukemia, and three weeks later she was gone," Sib says.

Sib was with Odie when she died and was the last to leave the hospital room that day. "I came into the world with her, I was going to be there when they took her," she says.

Dressing Odie for the funeral, seeing her own face in the coffin, was the hardest thing Sib's ever done, she says. Because Odie had married in a courthouse and always had regretted not having a white dress, Sib had her wedding gown shipped to Colorado. Odie was buried in it.

Sib has tried to help Odie's husband and six children, who find it comforting to be with Sib. "I call them all the time. We text. We constantly communicate."

Sib wanted to bring Odie's children up here on July 3, the anniversary of Odie's death, but after Sib's husband was laid off, they couldn't afford plane tickets. Now Sib's hoping she can afford to fly to Colorado to comfort Odie's family.

She struggled this year, wondering, "Am I still a twin?"

"We were one before we split into twins. So I did lose half of myself." But she'll always be a twin, she's concluded.

"I just hope and pray the woman you wrote about gets to meet her twin," Sib says.