Two childhood friends from Hawaii received an extraordinary Christmas gift this year: They found out they’re brothers.
Alan Robinson and Walter Macfarlane spent decades wondering about their biological families. Robinson was adopted, and Macfarlane never knew his father.
Both searched online for answers about their missing relatives, and DNA tests finally helped them realize that an important piece of the puzzle had been in front of them the entire time.
“It was an overwhelming experience. It’s still overwhelming,” Robinson told the Hawaii-based news station KHON2. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to get over this feeling.”
Robinson and Macfarlane were born 15 months apart in Hawaii. They met in the sixth grade, played on the same football team in high school, and have remained close friends for about 60 years.
Macfarlane started searching online for answers about his father several years ago, but had no luck. Later, he and his children started using DNA-matching websites like Ancestry.com.
The top match for Macfarlane’s DNA turned out to be a user named Robi737, whose “X” chromosomes appeared to be identical to those of Macfarlane. As luck would have it, Robi737 was actually Robinson.
The two men realized they have the same mother, and celebrated the discovery with a big gathering of family and friends on Saturday ― just in time for the holidays.
“This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine having,” Robinson told KHON2.
They said they planned to spend more time catching up and traveling together during their retirement.
Macfarlane and Robinson weren’t the only ones to discover a special link this holiday season. Earlier this month, a student at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University used Ancestry.com to find his brother ― who was studying at the same college.
Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have capitalized on advancements in DNA analysis by setting up services that promise to help customers learn more about their heritage and their genetic relatives. Ancestry.com has been online since 1996, but its DNA database launched in 2012.
The company claims users have made “eight billion connections between their trees and other subscribers’ trees” since 2008.