Anyone asking their parents the story of their own conception and birth is bound to hear a long-winded story. But some stories are longer than others; this one lasts over 40 years.
Florida resident Olivia Robles was born in the Philippines, but moved to the United States when she was 6 years old with her parents. She lived a normal life for a few years, until one day it changed forever.
At age 10, she was told that the man she thought was her father was not her biological father—he was her step-father. So, she took it upon herself to find her biological one.
“My mother knew I wouldn’t stop until I found him,” Robles told ABC Action News.
For the next few decades, Robles would search endlessly for any clues as to who her father could’ve been. Knowing that she was born in the Philippines, it was a long shot, but she never gave up hope that one day she might find him.
By the time she reached her late 40s, after getting married and having kids, her search had led her to use Ancestry.com to try to match her DNA with any potential family members—and she did end up getting a match.
But the Ancestry.com DNA search didn’t find a man, it found a woman: Diana Barnes, who turned out to be her cousin.
This was the first major breakthrough in her search. Robles talked to Diana to find out any clues that might lead her to her father.
And one name did come to Diana’s mind: 78-year-old Vietnam war veteran Gary Barnes.
Diana had said how Barnes would go to the Philippines to relax when he was off duty from the war. Remembering where she was born, Robles had a hunch that this wasn’t a coincidence.
She also came across an old photo of Barnes, who had a striking resemblance to members of her own family, including one of her own sons.
These pieces of evidence had Robles convinced he was the one.
“He has to be my father,” she said upon seeing the similarities, she told The Union. She got in contact with Barnes as soon as she could, and asked him one simple question.
“Would you be willing to do a DNA test?” Robles asked her potential father, Barnes told CBS Sacremento. He obliged immediately.
The results showed that Barnes was indeed Robles’s biological father!
Her search was finally over. And at the beginning of December, she flew out west to meet her father for the very first time.
Barnes had met Robles’s mother in the Philippines around 1966. But after their encounter, Barnes had to go back to the war, and they never saw each other again. Robles’s mother never told Barnes that she had his baby.
“I remember vowing not to have children,” Barnes told CBS Sacramento. But regardless of his wishes from decades before, this was now a part of his life that he never had, and was overjoyed to finally have it.
In an instant, Barnes went from not having any kids to being a father, and a grandfather to three grandsons. The veteran even told his daughter that he thinks he’s lived so long so that he could eventually find her.
Even if they had just met, the two look like a father and daughter that have been close their whole lives.
Robles spent the majority of her life looking for her father, and now this will be their first Christmas knowing each other.
She even has the “Barnes” name as a part of her name now—that’s how much this means to her.
Even if it did take 40 years, Olivia and Gary can now have the father–daughter relationship that they never had.