Decatur, Alabama (CBS NEWS) — A father and daughter who spent more than half a century apart found each other through a DNA testing site and got together this 4th of July weekend, reports CBS Huntsville, Alabama affiliate WHNT-TV.
Marine Corps veteran Thomas Williams, 81, finally got to meet his 62-year-old daughter, Tylin Rosser as well as her children and his great-grandchildren face-to-face.
The day was filled with tears and laughter.
“I think about you all the time. I always did,” Williams said as he embraced Rosser for the first time.
“I’m here,” Rosser replied.
“God answers prayers,” Williams said.
Williams always knew he fathered a child from a relationship he had while stationed in the Philippines.
“A friend of mine in the Marines showed me a picture and I didn’t know whether it was a little girl or boy because it was so small, and he said ‘this is your baby,” Williams recalled.
He was always open with his American-born children about his additional daughter.
“I told you about Tylin years ago!” Williams said to another daughter, Dana Williams.
He just never knew how to find the child.
Long-lost daughter Tylin Rosser had no idea the man she grew up with wasn’t her biological father until after his death. It was a hidden truth her mother only confessed shortly before her own death.
“She had dementia, and she was in several stages then, but when I asked her was he my biological father, all she could remember was just, ‘William,'” Rosser said.
Rosser’s own daughter gifted her a DNA test from Ancestry.com.
“I got some information maybe about 6 weeks later saying Carla Minor Williams was a cousin or close relative,” Rosser said. “I said that must be the ‘William’ my mom was always saying.”
Carla was a relative, along with Thomas Williams’ other children — confirmed with a DNA test.
“They all favor!” Williams laughed.
The father-daughter pair met virtually at first.
Then, Williams’ American-born children began to plan the surprise of a lifetime, bringing Tylin, her children, and her grandchildren from their Ohio home to Alabama for the holiday.
The two spoke about his time stationed in the Philippines, catching up on the little things.
“I got that when I was in Subang Bay,” Williams said as he pointed to a tattoo on his arm.
They also had tough conversations.
“My mother got terminally ill; that’s the only reason I didn’t come back there, but then after that I didn’t know how to find you,” Williams explained.