Jana Bennett and Lisa Keeler used Facebook to track down their family after more than 50 years of separation

By Char Adams
October 20, 2015 02:10 PM

Twin sisters from Mississippi spent years trying to track down their birth family in Italy. Now, thanks to Facebook, the adopted sisters have found the family that they had been separated from for more than 50 years.

Jana Bennett and her twin sister Lisa Keeler, born on January 29, 1960, knew of their Italian heritage since they were young. Their mother died during childbirth in Italy and they were adopted by an American couple, Anita Sipler and her husband in the U.S., who were told they were unable to have children, WLOX reports.

“My mom told us our story, she had all our information. My birth name was Maria Concetta Valenziano, and Lisa’s name was Anna Maria Valenziano,” Bennett told the station. “So since we knew our names we started thinking, ‘Well maybe we should be looking for our family over in Italy.’ ”

Jana Bennett (left), Anita Sipler (center) and Lisa Keeler
Amanda McCoy/The Sun Herald/AP

With only her last name to go on, Bennett tried ancestry websites and reached out to Italian newspapers for help finding her family, but didn’t have any luck, according to the Hattiesburg American.

Bennett then decided to take her search to Facebook.

“I got on Facebook and saw that there was a person with our same last name and I said, ‘Wow, Lisa, I’m going to write to these people,’ ” Bennett told WLOX.

She sent a message to Alessandro Valenziano, who responded saying that his father had twin sisters who were adopted and taken to America. Searching Alessandro’s page, Bennett soon found her brother, Giovanni, Hattiesburg reports. She sent him a message.

” ‘Oh my grand, you are my sisters.’ That was the first response I got,” Bennett said of her brother. “So, about a few minutes later he comes back telling me, ‘God is great, God is grand, he finally find his sisters after all these years.’ ”

She added to WLOX: “I’m like, ‘Oh my God. This is it. This is him. This is our family.’ ”

The twins kept communication with their long-lost family and have since received several documents and photographs.

“I always wondered what my mom and dad looked like,” Bennett told Hattiesburg.

They even interact via video with the twins’ nieces and nephews, who also serve as interpreters. WLOX reports that they will reunite with their birth family in the spring.