Walter Macfarlane, 74, and Alan Robinson, 72, told CNN they have been best friends since they were in the sixth grade. According to CNN, Macfarlane was informally adopted by his grandparents as a child. Robinson was given up for adoption as an infant and didn’t know his biological family.
“It was great for me,” Robinson said. “I was raised by the best people you can imagine. But when I had my own two children, I did wonder about family history, because I can never answer any health questions on official forms.”
As children, Macfarlane and Robinson attended the same school and played football together.
“It was so funny because you know when we played for Punahou, we were both first string and we’re brothers, playing side by side. He’s the tackle, I’m the end, and we never knew,” Macfarlane told KITV.
Robinson told CNN that as children, they used to “go skin diving, spearing fish, and camping out on Molokai.”
“Today, we play cribbage against each other and are fierce competitors,” he added.
According to CNN, several years ago, Robinson received two DNA tests from 23 and Me and Ancestry as birthday gifts. He sent the companies his DNA samples and the two companies documented his results.
Last year, Macfarlane also turned to the same companies in an effort to find his biological father. The two companies documented his results as well, and the family investigated the results looking for people he may be related to.
“So then we started digging into all the matches he started getting,” Cindy Macfarlane-Flores, Macfarlane’s daughter, told KHON-TV.
At the top of the results, the Macfarlanes saw the username Robi737.
“The strongest DNA relationship was Robi737, which the test said would be a half-brother,” Macfarlane-Flores told CNN. “My first thought is that they were related via the father. But when I looked at their X chromosome, which is only carried by the mother, it was an identical match. It hit me like a ton of bricks that they have the same mother!”
Macfarlane-Flores asked her parents if they could think of anyone that might use a name like “Robi737.” She said her mother, Martha, suggested asking Robinson because “he flew 737s for Aloha Airlines … and everyone called him Robby back then.”
When they asked him, Robinson confirmed that Robi737 was his username.
“We are on the edge of our seats and he calls back and tells my dad, ‘Yeah, that’s me!'” Macfarlane-Flores said. “I guess they were both trying to play it cool, but my dad was crying.”
The brothers announced the news to their extended family at a party last week.
Macfarlane-Flores said the discovery was “really 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,” she said.
The two men told CNN they still want to find their long-lost biological fathers and they plan to do some travelling together.
Macfarlane said “the whole thing is incredible, but when you think about it, it’s also sad we didn’t know we were brothers much sooner, because then we could have gone through all the highs and lows of life together.”
Robinson added, “I share his sentiment that it could have been more, but the good thing is that there are more good times to come.”