Best friends of 60+ years discover they are brothers

family law

Two men who have been best friends for more than six decades recently discovered that they are biological brothers.

The older of the two, Walter Macfarlane, was born in the Hawaiian capital Honolulu in 1943. His mother intended to give him up for adoption but, rather than go through the official process of adoption, her parents decided to “hānai” the child. This is a Hawaiian practice where a family member can adopt a child informally.

Fifteen months later, Alan Robinson was born but he was immediately given up for adoption and grew up never knowing his biological parents.

The two boys met when they were in elementary (primary) school and quickly became friends. Living just down the road from each other, their two families also became very close. As they grew up, they both attended the Punahou School in Honolulu, the same school where former US President Barack Obama was once a student.

Their friendship endured throughout college and the Vietnam war, with both men returning to Honolulu to raise families of their own. Walter’s daughter even referred to Robinson as “Uncle Alan” because of the affection between the two families.

Completely separately, the two men submitted DNA samples to the same two ancestry companies. Both were curious about the parts of their family history they still had questions about. When Macfarlane’s results came back, they provided information on “about 800 people you are related to” but it was his daughter, Cindy, who managed to sort the results to find the closest matches.

She found that the “strongest DNA relationship was [someone with the username] Robi737, which the test said would be a half-brother”. Initially, Cindy assumed there would be a shared father but when she “looked at their X chromosome, which is only carried by the mother, it was an identical match”.

Cindy asked her parents if the username Robi737 meant anything to them and was told to ask “Uncle Alan” because he used to fly 737 aeroplanes for a commercial airline and had been nicknamed Robby at the time. One phone call later revealed that this was Robinson’s username.

Talking to CNN, Robinson said:

“Normally I don’t cry easily, but I broke down in front of everyone, the emotions were so strong. It was such an overwhelming experience. The family was so warm and nurturing and accepting.”

Cindy called the revelation a “Christmas miracle”:

“And the coolest part is that we don’t have to meet him and learn about his life, because Uncle Alan is someone we already love and admire and have looked up to our whole lives.”

If you have any questions about adoption, Stowe Family Law has a team of solicitors who specialise in this area of the law. If you contact us, we can put you in touch with one of them and they can help guide you through any issues you are facing.

Photo of Honolulu, Hawaii, by nosha via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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