Childhood Friends Discover They Are Brothers
When Ron Cole, a 71-year-old retired cattle farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, accidentally knocked an envelope full of pictures off a shelf at his home nearly one year ago, only one photo fell out.
The photograph was of a young Cole standing on a beach in Ottawa with his childhood friend, Duncan Cumming.
Two days after dropping the photo, on Nov. 11, 2013, Cole nearly hung up the phone when a woman from Parent Finders Ottawa, an non-profit, volunteer-run adoption support group, called to tell him that the boy from the photo, Cumming, was his biological brother.
“I didn’t believe it,” Cole told ABC News. “I thought it was just a scam but she knew too much about my adopted family so I started to listen to her.”
Cole knew from around the age of 12 that he had been adopted but never had any interest, he says, in searching for his birth family. Nearly a decade before he got that phone call, however, he had sent one email to Parent Finders, at the urging of a friend who was a genealogist.
“I never heard anything until 10 or 12 years later, when I get this phone call,” Cole said.
Now, nearly one year after Cole received the phone call he never expected, he will re-meet his brother, Cumming, now 72, at a reunion planned for Sept. 4 in Ottawa. It will mark the first time the brothers have seen each other since around the age of 12, when Cole’s family moved to another part of Ottawa.
After the two parted ways as children, each got married and moved on from Ottawa. Cumming now lives nearly 3,500 miles away, in Guernsey, an island in the English Channel between the U.K. and France.
“We call each other about every two weeks and we’ve been in touch with Parent Finders,” Cole said. “This would have never happened without them.”
Parent Finders Ottawa, run by Monica Byrne, already had Cumming in their database, as he had been on a search for his birth family for nearly 25 years, when they got the email from Cole nearly a decade ago.
“It was only after a lot of investigative work and looking at it over and over that I realized that they were siblings,” Byrne told ABC News. “I reached out and we discovered that they were a match.”
Though Cumming and Cole know they share a birth mother, they are continuing to work with Parent Finders to investigate the rest of their family tree, including finding their biological sister.
Cole says he and Cumming, who could not be reached today by ABC News, did not share physical traits as kids but, as adults, do recognize their similarities.
“Basically as I tell him, ‘I’m the good looking one,’” Cole joked. “My wife says we have the same chin and nose. He’s about the same height.”
“I can see some resemblance there now,” he said.
Cole and Cumming's amazing reunion story was first told earlier this month by The Ottawa Citizen.
Now Cole says he is getting media requests from all over Canada, the US and Europe, but for him, when he sees Cumming at the reunion on Sept. 4, it will simply be a chance for two brothers to reconnect.
"I don’t know what all the fuss is about," he said. "It’s just a reunion."