Veteran reunites with long-lost family

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There’s some gifts that are so good on Christmas they don't even need wrapping paper. 

For a Hillsborough county woman, that holiday happiness came when she was introduced to her biological father after decades without knowing him.

 

"It's almost like twins reuniting and we just have a lot of similarities," said Olivia Robles.

 

Is it possible to pick up where you left off with a person you've never even met?

 

If it is, Olivia Robles and her dad Gary Barnes are living proof of it.

 

They're discovering commonalities, while getting to know each other as father and daughter.

 

After spending their first-ever Christmas together, and meeting for only the second time in 50 years.

 

"That's the thing I never gave up," said Robles.

 

Olivia says she was 10 years old when she found out the man who she grew up thinking was her father was actually her step-dad.

 

Ever since then she has been on a mission to find her biological father. After using ancestry.com to get some direction on who and where her dad could be, she came across a newfound cousin who pointed her to the right place.

 

"The next thing you know she's sending me a picture of my dad and the resemblance between my youngest son Ryan and my dad it was so compelling and we were like that has to be my father," she said.

 

Olivia discovered Gary,  a Vietnam vet, who had an old relationship with her mother. However, he never knew of a pregnancy.

 

"I went out with her mother and then when they shipped me out the final time back to Vietnam we lost touch," said Gary Barnes.

 

After a DNA test confirmed their hopes, the pair finally met for the first time about a month ago in California.

 

"When it tested positive I was absolutely thrilled and I still am I am overwhelmed," said Barnes. "I went from no children to a great grandson overnight."

 

Following that encounter there was little doubt about where Gary would be this Christmas. He hopped a plane from the west coast to be with his daughter, three grandsons and his great grandson a family he never knew he had

 

"This is the true gift of all it really is," said Robles.

 

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