Life doesn't always turn out the way you think it will and that is certainly the case for Vietnam veteran Gary Barnes. As he was getting ready to settle into his golden years, he would soon realize that there were a few more things that would change his life for the better.
Proud Vet Gary Barnes
Many people look forward to that time in their lives when they get to retire and simply enjoy their later years.
Gary Barnes is a 78-year-old man who chose to spend those years in Grass Valley, California with his wife Caryl. However, he still had one regret that left a whole in his heart.
Heading To Vietnam
Barnes was just one of the approximately 2,700,000 American soldiers who went over to serve in Vietnam.
This was one of the most traumatic experiences in his life, so he needed to find ways to decompress after living in such a stressful situation. So, he headed for some much needed rest and relaxation in the neighboring country of the Philippines.
He Loved The Philippines
While some may not know what to do in a foreign country, Barnes made sure to make the most of his time in the Philippines.
One thing that surely caught his eye were the women. "I thought the women were beautiful," said Barnes. He even met a special someone during his time there.
Just A Short Fling
Barnes ended up spending a lot of time with a woman named Filipina, but the two had to separate once he was called back to Vietnam.
Unfortunately, the pair were never able to keep in touch after he left and this would be important down the line. There was something she was keeping from him.
Moving Back To The States
Barnes was able to finish up his time in Vietnam and returned home to the United States.
There, he met a nice lady named Caryl who later became his wife. While the two enjoyed their marriage, they were never able to have children. This sometimes took a toll on him.
Someone New Enters The Picture
Across the country, a 50-year-old woman named Olivia Robles decided she wanted to look into her identity.
Robles was born in the Philippines and moved to America as a young girl. At about 10-years-old, she learned a family secret that would change everything. This caused a lot of mixed emotions.
A Different Father
Robles was told that the man she thought was her father was actually her stepfather. At first, she didn't know how to handle the news.
As she grew up, she became increasingly curious about her true background and the identity of her biological father. She would soon embark on an ancestry journey.
Taking A DNA Test
Since Robles was still unsure of her family history by the time she was 50, she knew a good way to figure things out would be to take a DNA test.
In order to get results on her full ethnicity and heritage, she ordered a test from Ancestry.com and submitted a sample.
An Alabama Woman Matches Her Results
Robles had no idea if she would get any sort of match, especially in the United States. Shortly after submitting her DNA, she learned she was a close match to a woman named Diana Barnes.
Diana was from Alabama and Robles thought she would have a lot of answers about her background.
Robles Gets Some Answers
Robles was able to chat with Diana about their family tree and asked her if her relatives had any sort of connection to the Philippines.
Diana remembered that her cousin Gary Barnes had spent time in the Philippines in 1966 during his time in Vietnam. Robles was getting closer to the truth.
Putting The Evidence Together
Robles realized that the man Diana was talking about had been in the Philippines just about a year before her birth. This meant he could be her biological father.
What really solidified this was Robles seeing a photo of a younger Barnes. The man looked almost identical to her youngest son.
While Robles was almost sure that Barnes was her biological father, she was still extremely nervous about how he'd handle the news.
She gave him a phone call and things went surprisingly well. "It was like I'd known him all these years," said Robles. Then, she knew it was time to have him take a DNA test.
The Results Are In
Barnes was eager to get his DNA sample submitted and once it was collected, the pair knew that they were in fact father and daughter.
Now, it was time to finally meet in person. Robles booked a trip to visit her long-lost father in California for the very first time.
Love At First Sight
As soon as Robles arrived at the airport, the father and daughter immediately embraced in an adorable hug.
Later, Barnes and his wife Caryl brought Robles home where she stayed with them for a week. Robles was so excited to add more people to her family and didn't want the experience to end.
It Was All She Ever Dreamed Of
After spending almost her entire life wondering who her real father was, Robles was ecstatic to finally have all her questions answered.
"This is truly a miracle. I've been on this quest for so many years since I was ten years old, and here we find each other at age 50 and 78, so it's a miracle," said Robles.
Barnes Got The Daughter He Always Wanted
After spending his whole life without children, Barnes was finally able to fill that gaping whole in his heart.
Not only did he have a new daughter and son-in-law, but he was also a grandfather to three grandsons. "My life is complete," said Barnes. This meant more to him than anything he could have ever imagined.
He Didn't Have To Miss Out Anymore
Throughout his adult years, Barnes felt like he was missing out on some of life's biggest moments because he never became a father.
"I missed those events where families got together and they loved each other and enjoyed being together. I never had that. Now, I do," said Barnes. He still had another surprise coming.
Their Families Grew Larger
Not only was Barnes a proud father of Robles, but he got to experience being a grandfather to three grandsons as well.
Also, one of his grandsons has a son, which made Barnes a great-grandfather. Similar to their grandfather, all of the grandsons have a background in the U.S. military.
Making Time For The Family
Barnes was absolutely thrilled to get so many new family members. He traveled to Florida to spend Christmas with them and they even made a special trip to New York for his grandson's military academy ceremony.
"I got to pin his first badge on him, and it's too difficult to even describe the emotions I felt. What an honor," said Barnes.
They're Closer Than Ever
After not knowing her father for most of her life, Robles decided to take a job within driving distance of him.
They call each other every morning and night, which Barnes really loves. "More important than anything in life...is family," said Barnes. It was truly a happy ending for both of them.