Brother Given Up for Adoption Reconnects With Family After 60 Year Search

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After a lifelong search, one man from Nebraska was about to give up hopes of finding his biological family. However, thanks to a quick phone call and some internet research, the search finally came to a happy ending.

John Etgen was given up for adoption when he was born in 1949. His mother was only 25 at the time, struggling with two other children, unemployed, and had recently lost her first husband. Etgen’s mother was convinced by a nurse to give her newborn up for adoption to a family in Detroit. After Etgen’s adoptive parents passed away, he moved and grew up in Whittier, California. Etgen found out about his adoption shortly after he graduated high school.

“I’ve always had the notion of meeting my mom. I wanted to see what she looked like,” Etgen shared with WCSH.

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Etgen only knew the name of his biological mother and that she passed away in 1996, but he still didn’t give up his search. Little did Etgen know, but his biological siblings were looking for him as well. Two of his brothers, Sam and Bob Hafford, searched many birth records and thought about visiting a tombstone in Michigan after making a discovery with an aunt in 1980. Etgen shared his search with his daughter who did some investigating on Facebook. Her search led her to a family reunion page on Facebook where she was quick to make the connection and a phone call with Sam Hafford.

“I was sleeping when the call came in. My wife took the call. The girl on the other line said, ‘I think your husband is my father’s brother,” Hafford explained.

After the phone call came in, they both started crying on the line and were in disbelief that they found each other. After the amazing discovery, the new siblings were quick to make arrangements to meet involving as many siblings as they could.

Two weeks after the call, older brother Everett Kinney and sister Charlene traveled to Maine to join both Hafford brothers to meet Etgen.

“It was an instant bond,” Hafford said. “We even found out we share little quirky things, like we both like our burgers with no cheese on them. It’s just been amazing.”

The siblings officially welcomed Etgen into the family by giving him their mother’s ring that held the birth stones of all her children. They explained that he should add his in as well.

The heartwarming reunion comes after a sad year for the Hafford and Kinney siblings. The big family lost four sisters, including three in the past year.

“It’s one of those stories you read about in a book or see on TV, and we’re living it,” Hafford told Today. “We lost four sisters, but we gained a brother.”

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