Randall Vandivier and Jesse McDowell just found out they were brothers. Sure, their father may have been a man of many secrets, but these siblings would appear to hardly care — they’re just happy to have become one big happy family.
Born only seven months apart 69 years ago, Randall and Jesse didn’t know the other existed.
It all began when Jesse’s sister, Marion, noticed that a Facebook connection was friends with Randall. She happened to then notice a photo of Randall with his aunt. The name “Vandivier” piqued Marion’s curiosity.
“The reason I did a friend request to Randall was because my grandfather and Randall’s uncle [Charles Vandivier] were good friends,” Marion told ABC News.
Marion then noticed that Randall’s aunt also had the name “Vandivier.” She wanted to know more about the family that had apparently been close to hers. Marion and Randall began talking. Eventually, they each shared some photos of their father: Jesse McDonnell Sr., a World War II veteran.
“She sent a picture of her father, and I said, ‘Lord have mercy — that’s my father!'” Randall said.
It turns out that Jesse Sr. had never married Randall’s mother. He soon moved across the country and married Marion’s mom. The existence of a second family was unbeknownst to everyone.
“We exchanged pictures [of] when we were just 2 years old, and we looked like twins,” Jesse said of him and Randall.
Randall flew out to meet his five siblings, and it was thrilling for them all.
“I was about to jump out of my skin. I just couldn’t wait,” Jesse said.
The family credits Facebook for bringing them together — there’s simply no other way they’d have found each other.
“Everybody in that generation is dead, you know: our father, her mother, my mother. So it was just beautiful to have this,” Randall said. “And if it weren’t for Facebook, it would have never happened.”
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Footage and photos provided by WCPO.
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