Reader's Digest US
DNA Test Image Credit: Reader's Digest US
DNA Test Image Credit: Reader's Digest US

Reunited By Science

Millions of people have used commercial DNA tests to trace their family trees. For a few lucky folks, the results have been life-changing, introducing them to relatives they had lost long ago—or never knew existed.

Claire Nowak


Walter Macfarlane, 76, and Alan Robinson, 74, have been friends for more than 60 years.

They grew up a few miles away from each other in Honolulu and met in sixth grade. They played high school football together. They are so close, they’re Uncle Walter and Uncle Alan to each other’s kids. So imagine their surprise when they discovered they were in fact biological brothers.

“It did feel natural,” Walter says of the revelation. “We knew each other so well.”

It came about, as so often happens, by accident. Walter, a retired math and physical education teacher, knew that he had a complicated family tree. His mother had been young and unmarried when she gave birth to him during World War II, and because she couldn’t raise him on her own, the family pretended that his grandmother was his mother and his mother was his sister. Walter didn’t learn the truth until he graduated from high school. Even then, his mother never told him (or anyone else) who his father was.

So in 2016, when commercial DNA testing kits were starting to take off, Walter’s daughter, Cindy MacfarlaneFlores, suggested he try a couple. When Cindy logged on to to check the results, she saw that a user named Robby737 and her dad shared enough DNA to be half siblings. When Cindy asked her parents whether they knew anyone who could have that username, her mother immediately thought of W

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