Our parents play a huge role in our lives—they are the first people who set out to help us understand the world. Mothers and fathers essentially lay the foundation for who we all become once we reach adulthood, for better or for worse.
While you might have put your parents on a pedestal as a child, sometimes as an adult you can learn something about their past that changes everything you thought you knew. For one college student, that’s exactly what happened… in front of her entire class!
In February 2018, 19-year-old Anya Hettich, a student at California State University in San Bernardino, was sitting in biology class when she found herself the audience to something she wasn’t remotely prepared for.
Sure, science class can be exciting… Students are given the opportunity to perform hands-on procedures that show them the wonders of all living organisms, how could it not be?
However much fun these classes might be, they’re certainly not known for their interpersonal drama. Of course, students like Anya are prepared for some physical danger, like getting burned by the Bunsen burner, but no one expects the heartbreak of deep, dark secrets revealed!
Initially, the subject matter seemed rather boring to Anya and the other students, especially since the class started at 8 a.m. Yet the lesson of the day had them all discussing blood types, and nobody predicted the turn of events that followed…
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The class was learning about Punnett squares; simple diagrams named after pioneering geneticist Reginald Punnett. They’re used to help predict which genes may be passed from one organism to another.
As part of the lesson, the students in Anya’s biology class were discussing comparisons of their blood types (as these are genetically inherited traits) to that of their parents. This caused some concern for one of Anya’s classmates…
This particular woman discovered something that seemed like it must have been a mistake. Her mother’s blood type was A, and her father’s blood type was O. This meant that her AB blood type should have been impossible.
What followed was so dramatic that Anya couldn’t help but write about it on Twitter. “My prof [sic] explained that that’s impossible, that she’s confused on the blood types or something—she even drew out the different Punnett squares to show her.”
The professor was right: People with type A blood can only pass on the A blood type to their children. The same goes for type B. However, while people with type AB blood can pass on both type A and B, type O can pass neither.
In other words, since blood type O comes from a recessive gene, it was scientifically impossible for this young woman to have type AB blood if neither her mother nor her father carried blood type B.
Clearly, something was off, but she assumed the professor filled out her Punnet Square incorrectly. “The girl was persistent that she wasn’t wrong on the blood types, and was confident that there was something wrong with how the professor was doing it.”
The professor didn’t want to make the student any more uncomfortable. Could you imagine trying to move forward with your lesson plan after a student revealed to the whole class that the man she called her father was not who she thought he was?
Ultimately, the professor “told [the student] to talk to her parents to double check the blood types and make sure the information was correct.”
It wasn’t long before Anya’s classmate returned with shocking news. Anya was bewildered, so one could only imagine how her classmate must have felt! “…her mom had an affair with her husband’s brother who is his stepbrother,” Anya tweeted.
“So technically,” Anya continued, “she’s been raised by her uncle and not her dad her entire life—her mom hid it from the both of them for 21 years.” This had all the makings of a made-for-television movie!
That’s right, thanks to what should have been a simple class study, a young woman’s world was shattered. “Because my prof told her she was wrong with her blood types, she figured out her uncle was actually her dad and vice versa,” Anya reiterated.
Anya wrapped up her classmate’s story with a somewhat predictable, yet no less heartbreaking conclusion. The young woman’s mother and the man whom she thought was her biological father, were getting divorced.
Since the story was told second-hand it’s impossible to determine the details of what happened when her classmate confronted her parents with this information. One could only guess that it was a difficult pill to swallow!
While you can’t blame this young woman’s parents for making the surprisingly quick, yet painful decision to get a divorce, that doesn’t make the outcome any less heartbreaking.
Because of the prevalence of DNA test kits, people all over the planet are getting life-changing jolts similar to Anya’s classmate — like two men from Hawaii.
It was the 1960s, and Walter MacFarlane and Alan Robinson were entering Punahou middle school in Honolulu, Hawaii. But luckily for Walt and Alan, whom everyone called “Robi,” the two quickly became friends for life.
The boys did everything together. They both played on their high school football team, enjoyed playing cribbage, and loved being outdoors. But common interests weren’t all that brought them together.
While Walter never knew his father, Robi never knew either of his biological parents because he had been adopted when he was just a baby. Naturally, because of this, the boys felt a connection on a deeper level.
Despite their age difference of nearly 15 months, the boys were absolutely inseparable. Of course, while they were close they each had other circles of friends, too. It was only natural that they would grow a little bit apart.
As time passed and the boys grew up, things continued to change. “He was the party-er. I never went to or did any partying in high school,” said Walter, who continued to seriously pursue athletics.
Robi was always a little less athletically inclined. When he stopped partying and settled down to clean up his act, he began attending aviation school and later became a pilot for Aloha airlines — not a bad job for someone with a lust for adventure!
Still, Walter and Robi remained friends, as they would always care deeply for each other, even if they were living completely different lives. It may seem hard to imagine, but they kept their friendship up for six whole decades!
As Walter aged and became a father, he loved and appreciated the friends and family he had, but he couldn’t help but be curious about the father he never met. So, for Walter’s birthday, his kids gave him a gift that could finally give him some answers…
His daughter, Cindy Macfarlane-Flores, gave him a DNA test. She and her siblings helped Walter take the DNA samples and sent them to the company where they would be matched with others. “So then we started digging into all the results he started getting,” said Cindy.
One of the top matches shared a lot of DNA with Walt and even had an identical X-chromosome. It turned out… Walt had a half-brother! It was then that he noticed the half-brother’s username and nearly fell out of his chair.
The mystery brother was registered under the username “Robi737.” Of course, it immediately reminded Walter of his childhood friend Alan, whose nickname was Robi, and who had become a pilot flying Boeing 737s.
Walter wanted to believe it, but he thought it was too good to be true. Could it really be that he and his childhood best friend were related? Or was it something bigger, like fate bringing them together?
You see, Robi had also turned to Ancestry in order to find his birth parents. “I had a younger brother that I lost when he was 19, so I never had nieces or nephews. I thought ‘I’ll never know my birth mother, will I ever get to meet anyone from my family?'”
When Walter suspected that Robi was indeed the match with the identical chromosome, he ran to the phone and called him up. When he asked if Robi was Robi 737, his suspicions were confirmed: they were half-brothers all along!
“It was a shock,” Walter said. It was an astounding realization that the friends shared the same birth mother, but everything finally fell into place. It made sense to them now why they looked so alike, why they had always felt a special bond…
Walter and Robi met up right after the shocking discovery but neither could believe it was really true. Yet, when they looked down at their arms side by side they knew it was true. “Yea it was a shock, definitely and then we thought about it and compared forearms,” Robi said. “Yea hairy arms, that did it!” Walter added.
After the initial shock wore off, the brothers couldn’t help but reminisce about their youth. “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,” Walter said. He’s the tackle, I’m the end, and we never knew, you know.”
“We’d go to Punaluu to go free-diving and fishing,” Robby said. “I’d be making noise in the water splashing around, and he’d be teaching me how to do it right. He’d always come out of the water with the biggest string of fish and I had the smallest.”
The discovery happened just before the holidays, so Walter and Robi gathered their families together to share the incredible news. “This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine,” Robi said. “It really is a Christmas miracle, and we’re just so happy that we found each other,” Walter added.
The brothers were completely overwhelmed by the news and are still getting used to the fact that they now have each other as more than just friends. They have plans to spend their retirement traveling together and catching up for lost time, as friends, and as brothers.