Twins Meet Months Ahead In Amazing Race On Unexpected ‘Twin-tuition’: ‘Everything Fell Into Place’

A year before they competed in The Amazing Race, Emily Bushnell and Molly Sinert were complete strangers living in different states. But when they both took DNA tests for different reasons, they made a startling discovery: they were identical twins who were separated at birth.

Less than a year after they first met at age 36, the sisters were competing around the world as a team on the CBS reality competition. In the show’s 34th season finale, which aired on Wednesday, they placed second behind Big Brother 23 contestants Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss after a close final stage.

Although they didn’t win the $1 million grand prize, the twins’ racing experience provided them with a truly incredible opportunity to team up on a globe-trotting adventure, and they’re taking home something even more valuable: a budding relationship with a long-lost a long time. sister.

“We’ve just grown individually, we have each other in our lives,” Sinert tells PEOPLE. “I’m her biggest cheerleader, she’s my biggest cheerleader, and we’re all the better for it.”

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Competing as a team in high-pressure competition was “very easy and effortless,” says Bushnell. “Everything just clicked.”

Sinert was initially skeptical of having a “twin license plate” with someone she had just met, but now believes it was always “underlying”.

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“If I had gone on the run with a stranger, I don’t think it would have gone as smoothly,” she tells PEOPLE before turning to her sister, adding, “I mean, technically you were a bit of a stranger, but not really! We share 100% DNA!”

Bushnell and Sinert were born in South Korea in 1985. They were sent to separate foster homes as babies before being adopted by two different American families.

Sinert was the only child of Merill and Marla Sinert in Winter Park, Florida. Bushnell, who was adopted by Sandy Schwartz Klein and Christopher Bushnell of Yardley, Pennsylvania, grew up with three older brothers.

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The twins took every opportunity to get to know each other better in the race, including off-camera during pit stops, when they played card games, did crossword puzzles and shared spontaneous goofy moments that sometimes left them with points.

“We had no life experiences together, so this was just day after day trying to understand how each other grew up and who we are as people,” Sinert tells PEOPLE.

The run not only “revved up” their relationship, but also allowed them to discuss more about exploring their adoptions, Sinert says.

The twins say they have received support from the adoptive community in general, especially within the Korean community. They’ve also connected with people who Sinert says are “fighting the good fight of adoptees,” like Sam Futerman and Ana├»s Bordier, the Korean twins featured in a 2015 documentary titled Twinsters.

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Bushnell says it has been “helpful and therapeutic” for both her and her sister to “connect” with other people who were adopted because it helped them discover resources they never knew existed. Even after the race, the twins are still learning about themselves and themselves, and how their respective adoptions affected their lives.

“I wish we had more support when we were younger, to understand all this,” Sinert tells PEOPLE. “But [we are] very lucky to have connected with some great people. And just hearing the stories of other adoptees is really wonderful, too.”

The sisters dream of one day starting a foundation that can be a one-stop source for adoptees seeking resources for themselves. “That’s a big dream,” says Sinert, “but we’ve conquered The Amazing Race, so who knows what else we can do!”

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Meanwhile, the twins hope to further develop their bond. They’ve only seen each other twice since the Race ended, but they’re working together to make sure they’ll spend more time together in the future.

“We check in with each other as often as we can,” says Bushnell. “I think right now, we’re trying to plan for our future, to spend more quality time together.”

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