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SWFL Firefighter meets brothers and sisters for first time after years of searching

Posted at 9:00 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 22:41:40-05

As a Southwest Florida firefighter, Ara Hagopian, says he has everything he could have dreamed of. From loving parents during his childhood to his career, there’s nothing he wanted to change.

He was adopted at a young age, and he says he wrote off the fact there was anyone related to him.

But the curiosity was always there. In 2018 his wife bought him an ancestry DNA test.

"She warned me she said there’s a good chance that you might have some pretty positive feedback,” Hagopian said.

It turns out, his wife was right. Months later he received an ancestry message that read: "I’m shaking as I’m typing this. I’m pretty sure your birthday is on September 17th?”

Ara replied yes thinking this person was a cousin but instead it found it was an uncle he had never met.
The next thing he knew, his wife got a message from his sister he had never met.

"Within the next 72 to 96 hours. It was just so much information,” Hagopian said. I woke up on the third day and I just told my wife, I said give me a day give me 24 hours to absorb it and understand what’s going on.”

Almost overnight his family had grown. Two brothers, Alan and Matt, and two sisters, Amber and Kasey. The four siblings found out about Ara, 11 years ago and immediately started searching for him through numerous websites.

"This is definitely not what I was expecting to happen,” Hagopian said.

The siblings finally met face to face for the first time in Richmond, Virginia. Hagopian says he found so many similar characteristics between his siblings.

"Whether it’s personality, whether its voice, the look it was just surreal,” he said.

"It was almost like the universe was saying meet each other! But it just wasn’t working,” said Ara’s younger sister, Amber Kelly, via FaceTime.

"It’s just too long coming, and we’re all pumped up, I’m super pumped,” said Matt Shofner, Ara’s younger brother, also via FaceTime.

Now each sibling have meaningful matching tattoos - and with a lot of laughs and pure joy, they found a bond, they didn’t know they needed.

"When I did finally contact my siblings, my wife said she saw something change in me,” Ara said.