Lisa Lumpkins was scrolling through her Facebook newsfeed in February when she came across a picture of Avery, a teenage girl from China that looked strikingly similar to her adopted 12-year-old daughter Aubrey – both had cerebral palsy, sparkling eyes and toothy grins that “just melt your heart.”
The photo of Avery was posted by a volunteer at the same Shenzhen orphanage where Lisa and her husband, Gene Lumpkins, adopted Aubrey in 2013. The caption stated that she was still in the orphanage, looking to find her forever home.
“My jaw dropped, they looked just so, so similar,” Lisa, 43, tells PEOPLE. “My motherly instincts kicked in, I knew they had to be sisters or maybe even non-identical twins.”
Lisa, who was never informed that Aubrey had a sibling, cut and pasted an image of Avery next to Aubrey and posted the comparison to their own social media page.
“Friends and family were like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ ” says Lisa. “Everyone agreed they had to be sisters.”
Lisa and Gene requested that a DNA test be performed in March. When the results came back two weeks later, the parents received confirmation of a familial match.
“They had been in the same Chinese orphanage for nine years together and no one knew they were sisters!” says Lisa. “Apparently they were buddies, and when we showed them pictures of each other, they remembered.”
The Chinese orphanage claims that Avery is 13. This would mean that she is Aubrey’s older sister – not twin – but Lisa has a feeling there might be more to the story.
“Avery and Aubrey were both abandoned as babies, so it’s hard to tell their exact ages,” she says. “But something tells me they are actually twins. They seem to have the exact same demeanor.”
The Georgetown, Kentucky, couple are also parents to two biological children and four adopted children with special needs, but they say their family wasn’t complete without Avery.
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“We knew we had to do whatever it took to bring her here,” says Lisa.
Soon after finding out about the match, Lisa and Gene began paperwork to adopt and bring Avery to the United States – but the family is running short on time.
According to Chinese law, once a child turns 14, they become ineligible for overseas adoption – and Avery turns 14 on August 18.
“When a child turns 14 in China, they are no longer adoptable – even if we are in the process. If we don t have Avery in our custody, she won’t get adopted,” Lisa says.
“We still have multiple steps to go through, but we are expediting this process as quickly as we can,” she continues. “We drive paperwork to places instead of mailing, we called our local congressman. We’ve been assured that this is doable!”
Lisa says Aubrey asks about her sister daily – and even worries about her well-being overseas.
“Aubrey bugs me every day about when Avery is going to be coming home,” says Lisa. “She goes, ‘Oh, thank you, mom! For my sister!’ ”
“She asks me to check the temperature in China to see if it’s cold,” she adds. “She wants her sister to be safe and healthy, it’s so heartwarming!”
With help from a GoFundMe page, the family is raising money for the adoption process. If everything runs smoothly, Avery will be reunited with Aubrey in July.
“This is all coming together for a specific reason,” says Lisa. “It was meant to be. It’s time for our daughter to come home.”