FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A surprise like no other — a Florida family was made whole for the first time in decades.
A father and son met for the first time Friday after searching for each other for more than 30 years. That son also learned he has siblings, nieces and nephews and many new additions to his family tree.
Rod Hobbs and his new sister worked together to pull off a surprise for their father.
Hobbs lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia and flew to South Florida Friday. Waiting to pick him up was his biological sister, Britny McFarlane, who he met for the first time inside the Palm Beach International Airport.
“We’re just excited to welcome him into the family, finally,” McFarlane said.
Hobbs explained he found out when he was 15 years old that the man who he thought was his dad was not his biological father. He said he had a tough upbringing with his family, and also moved out of his home when he was 15.
His mother never would tell him who his real dad was, and she took that secret to the grave. He tried to find his father himself for more than 30 years.
“I’ve hired private detectives and DNA experts and spent a great deal of time, energy, and money with no results,” Hobbs said.
Finally, he was contacted by someone who wanted to help. Hobbs said a DNA test matched his biological cousin, who helped tie Hobbs to his father, Robert Kopelakis.
Kopelakis also long wondered about his son. He says Hobbs's mother left him when she was pregnant while Kopelakis was deployed in the Navy. When he returned home, he never heard from her again and could not find her.
“I was sorry that we lost so much time. I was sorry that I couldn’t find his mom,” Kopelakis said.
Kopelakis just received the DNA test results and planned to open them with Hobbs on a FaceTime call.
Kopelakis called Hobbs, who in the middle of the call, came out of a backroom to surprise Kopelakis.
The emotional moment was filled with tears, as the Kopelakis family immediately embraced Hobbs, already making note of all of their similarities.
“It’s a family I’ve wanted all my life that I didn’t think I’d ever had... and it’s so much bigger than I would have ever imagined,”
The father and son opened the DNA results, showing a 99% match.
“I want to get to know his children, they're my grandchildren. There’s just so much to do,” Kopelakis said.
Hobbs plans to make frequent trips to visit his new family and said he is thinking about buying a home in Florida.
This story was originally published by Meghan McRoberts at WPTV.