4 DNA Tests Lead to Emotional Meetings with Long-Lost Relatives
Updated on March 1, 2024
Back to top
back to top icon
4 DNA Tests Lead to Emotional Meetings with Long-Lost Relatives

Finding long-lost relatives can feel like a one-in-a-million chance. Where do you even start?

After feel-good stories like Anastasia and Tangled where our protagonists finally find where they belong and the family they’ve longed for at the price of near-impossible challenges, it may feel like the possibilities are slim to none.

This isn’t the case—especially for those who’ve opted to take DNA tests.

DNA tests do more than just tell you about what you may develop in the future. They can also reconnect you with family you’ve lost or never even knew about. Building these bridges can lead to much deeper connections, more meaningful relationships, and even fewer lonely holidays.

Here are some of our favorite stories about families finding each other through DNA tests.

Man Who Was Switched At Birth Meets Newfound Siblings After DNA Test

Richard Riebman and his sister Sarah never expected their family to grow decades after becoming adults.

However, when their cousin Susan Groff took a DNA test, it uncovered a shocking truth—they had another brother named Tom Johnson. What was even more shocking was that he had likely been switched at birth, at the time, with their late brother Herbert.

“It was just shocking, awesome. Where have you been all my life?” said Sarah, amazed at the discovery.

How Did They Get Switched?

When Richard and Sarah’s cousin Susan took her DNA test, she discovered a connection to Tom Johnson. They then figured out that their late brother Herbert was also born in the same hospital that Tom was born in.

On December 7th, 1941, on Pearl Harbor Day, a bomb hit Arizona. This was also the day they were born. They concluded that, because of the panic and chaos, Tom and Herbert must have been switched at birth.

“Looking at them, they look like me!” Tom said jokingly as he wrapped his arms around his newfound siblings. “I was in kind of shock at that time, realizing that maybe I had overturned a rock that was pretty surprising to me, that, in fact, I did have a different mother and father,” he continued.

Soon after Susan took her test, Sarah took a confirmatory test and determined their sibling status.

The Riebman Siblings Reunite

Meeting each other face-to-face for the first time was intensely emotional:

“It made me tear up, it made me happy,” said Tom Johnson, smiling.

Sarah and Richard also talked about how alike they all looked in contrast to Herbert and how they noticed the difference, explaining fondly:

I thought that explains a lot because Herbie, the brother who was switched, was just so different than we were. And we always kind of laughed about it. It was kind of a joke. Where’d he come from?

Still, they affirmed that they loved their late brother very much and were glad to now discover a brother they had lost so long ago. They were all excited to have him get to know his biological family and explore their traditions.

For Tom, having a biological family after growing up as an only child has been incredible. He continued:

“It’s really a joy to me…I’m really looking forward to knowing more about my real family. It’s really a joy to me.”

A Christmas Miracle – Man Finds Birth Father in England After Years of Wondering

Australian Ryan Hammond had searched for his birth parents for years without success. As an adoptee, he’d always wondered about his birth parents. He mentioned that he had posted a video the year prior where he talked about wanting so badly to meet his biological mother:

On Mother’s Day last year, I posted this video. Hey, I’m Ryan, and I’ve never met my biological mother. I’d love to be able to look my birth mother in the eye and just say how thankful I am for literally everything. She gave me my life, and I feel like the least I can do is let her live hers. I just wanted to say thank you for everything, and I hope you have a great Mother’s Day.

After taking an Ancestry DNA test and getting help from a DNA detective, he finally tracked down his biological father, who was living in London.

Contacting His Father

Ryan’s father didn’t have Facebook or an email address listed, so he decided to write him an old-fashioned letter. It took him a week to finally write it and send it, and he was surprised to receive an email back from his father, elated at the discovery.

His father wrote:

I’m so sorry I’ve missed being part of your life. I’m from the USA, but I’m currently working in London. If you want, I’ll book you and your family flights over here. You can stay with us because what’s mine is yours. We can spend the festive season together, as this is truly a Christmas miracle.

Ryan’s adoptive family was so excited for him and supported him through his entire journey to meet with his biological father.

“At 30 years of age, I’ve now met someone who has the same blood as me, I’ve met someone who looks like me, I’ve met someone with the same DNA as me,” said Ryan, smiling.

Meeting His Father Halfway Across the World

Ryan was anxious leading up to their first meeting, but it ended up feeling comfortable—almost like they were old friends. He said it was almost underwhelming—but in the best way that it didn’t feel like a big deal.

“To anyone else, it would have just seemed like two old mates catching up for a coffee… We had so many similarities, and we had such a great time. Later that night, we caught up for dinner, and we ended up having beers and dinner every night for the whole week I was in London,” he recalled.

Ryan said his father was “annoyed” when he found out that he had a son, but only because he had wanted to know about him and be in his life. He’d never known he had a son and felt disappointed that he couldn’t be part of his life growing up.

Still, he and Ryan felt they had built a new bridge and nurtured that connection.

“Meeting my birth father has been incredible. I never thought it would ever happen, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it five, ten, 15 years ago,” said Ryan.

Boxer Finds Dad Who Didn’t Know He Existed

Vidal Rivera had asked his mother who his father was growing up, but she always avoided the subject. A DNA test finally helped lead him to his father and a half-brother. Vidal called his father first, who was shocked to discover he had a son.

When asked if he had any memory of Vidal, James Sr. shook his head and said:

“Couldn’t remember nothing. And I felt really bad because I didn’t remember. 27 years ago, I’m like, 27 years ago? That was the 80s, that was good times. I don’t remember that. Couldn’t remember, like, seriously couldn’t remember.”

Looked For His Father, Also Gained a Brother

Despite James not knowing about Vidal for 27 years, they quickly formed a tight father-son bond. Vidal, James Sr., and James Jr. are very close now.

It’s not just about finding his father but also having the joy of getting a new brother.

“It’s been the best thing,” all three of them repeated jovially, laughing and smiling.

For Vidal, especially, it was a dream come true after his mother dodged the question for years. He’d always wanted to know about his father, and so finally finding out and getting a brother with the discovery has only made the deal sweeter.


Vidal finally found the father he’d been searching for, and things have only improved from there.

DNA Test Leads to Joyful Father-Daughter Reunion After 40 Years

John Gonsalves decided to take a DNA test to explore his ancestry but ended up finding a daughter he never knew existed. Thanks to the test, he connected with a 40-year-old daughter named Jeannie, who had been put up for adoption as an infant.

“I Literally Felt the World Stop”

When Jeannie first saw John listed as her biological father on her own DNA test results, she was flooded with emotion:

“When John’s name came up, and underneath it, it said ‘father.’ And I was like, holy cannoli. This guy’s my biological father. Oh my gosh. I was stunned. I literally felt the world stop.”

She soon reached out to John by letter to share the incredible discovery.

First Meeting Exceeds Expectations

While anxious leading up to their first in-person meeting, both Jeannie and John were overcome with joy at finally finding each other after 40 years:

“Oh, this is so amazing,” they both exclaimed over hellos and greetings, all smiles.

The long-awaited embrace between father and daughter was an emotional moment.

DNA Reveals Family They Didn’t Know They Had

In addition to meeting Jeannie, John connected his new daughter to his other daughter, Robin, who had gifted him the DNA test. Robin had recently lost her mom, so having new family come into her life carried special meaning:

“Having someone like Jeannie is really nice, and it does feel like a blessing,” said Robin, after talking about losing her mom and gaining a sister.

Despite living just miles apart earlier in their lives, John and Jeannie needed the help of DNA technology to finally bring them together. And the timing could not have been better.

“I’m entering the fourth quarter of life, and God has given me that opportunity…We’re going to the Super Bowl, and we’re going to win,” said John.

DNA Connects People Craving Biological Family

While DNA tests can certainly uncover difficult truths, they have also led to countless incredible meetings between long-separated relatives.

Ryan never expected to find his dad in England, Vidal finally got answers from his elusive father, John and Robin have a new family member, and the Riebmans are finally finding their blood brother after all these years apart.

DNA testing gifts people with connections they may have believed were lost forever. And there are likely many more happy first meetings still to come.

Updated on March 1, 2024
Minus IconPlus Icon
3 sources cited
Updated on March 1, 2024
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela is a full-time digital content manager and editor for Know Your DNA. She also contributes freelance articles to several local and international websites when she has the time. She's always been a voracious believer in finding the truth and ensuring the science is sound.