Siblings meet brother for first time in 6 decades at Tampa Intl. Airport

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A family was united for the first time on Wednesday when a pair of siblings’ long lost brother landed at Tampa International Airport.

Gloria Casanova wasn’t looking to find any family member she didn’t know about when she created an Ancestry.com account to find her sister, who was adopted when they were children.

“Never was looking for a brother or anything outside of that,” she said.

Casanova found her sister after 37 years apart and was satisfied with the result.

But a family friend, Tyler Godshall, started doing research Casanova’s Ancestry account and social media after her brother, Luis Dechapa, connected with a 28-year-old in Texas on 23andMe.

Godshall reached out to the man on Facebook, but soon realized he was close, but had the wrong guy. He was actually searching for the man’s father, Stephen Hawthorne.

He gave Hawthorne a call back in September.

“Stephen mentioned that he was adopted and that got my wheels turning. Called him back a second time and after the second conversation, ‘that’s Gloria and Luis’ half-brother! We’re not looking for Evan, we’re looking for this guy! They’ve got the same father!’ So it was pretty cool to come to that realization,” Godshall said.

The family had only seen each other via FaceTime before Hawthorne landed at Tampa International Airport.

Now they’re ready to celebrate their first holiday together.

“Thanksgiving is going to be at my house. We have around 20 people coming over, all of us, and we’ve got about six dogs coming over so it’s going to be a little bit crazy,” Casanova laughed. “And a lot of family time, a lot of celebration. My sister is driving down so it’ll be our first Thanksgiving together.”

Hawthorne said meeting his half-siblings and his trip to Tampa couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I’ve recently lost my parents, and I never expected to know my biological family at this stage in my life, so it was truly a blessing,” he said.

Hawthorne is looking forward to becoming a big, happy family.

“That’s what I’m hoping for. It doesn’t get any better than this. I think God’s timing was perfect in this to put these families together,” he said.

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