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/ Source: TODAY Contributor
By Terri Peters

Robert Allen Jr. knew he had been adopted as an infant, but with the details surrounding his adoption closed under Ohio state law, the Cincinnati man says he had given up hope of finding his biological family.

On his 40th birthday, however, changes to adoption laws in his state allowed him to request the information he’d been waiting for his entire life: the identity of his birth parents.

Robert says he requested his birth certificate online, and after receiving the names of his birth mother and father, took to social media to find them.

“I went on Facebook and said I was looking for my parents. That was at like 1:00 in the afternoon, and by 9:00 that night, I was talking to my sister,” said Robert. “She put me through the wringer. She made sure I was who I was supposed to be. She asked me 101 questions, twice. When she finally realized I was who I was, we both started crying.”

Robert Allen Jr. and his sister, Sonya Jones.Courtesy AJ Jordan

Sonya Jones, the sister Robert first connected with, says she and her siblings had always known they had a brother, who had been adopted by another family. Sonya notes their mother, Elaine Dubois, was a single mom of five when she got pregnant with Robert, and placed him for adoption because of financial problems.

Although their mother and Robert’s father have passed away, Sonya says Robert’s five siblings were eager to reconnect with their baby brother.

“It was really wonderful for him to find us. We’ve always wanted to find him, but we just did not know how to do that. We didn’t know what to do, so we just held on and just waited,” Sonya told TODAY Parents.

Siblings Stacey, David, Robert, AJ and Sonya.Courtesy of AJ Jordan

The family held a barbecue on July 4, where Robert and his adoptive mother, Eloise Allen, met the siblings, nieces and nephews and other relatives who had been waiting to reconnect with the baby they had never had the opportunity to know.

Watch video of the family together

Eloise says she had always wanted Robert to find his birth family, as he had been raised as an only child and had taken her husband’s death extremely hard.

Robert Allen Jr. and his adoptive mother, Eloise Allen.Courtesy AJ Jordan

“I knew he had a family out there and I wanted him to find them because I’ll be 80 years old soon, and if anything happens to me, I want him to have a family to lean on,” said Eloise. “Meeting the family was wonderful — much greater than I ever dreamed it would be. Robert has been on cloud nine ever since.”

AJ Jordan, one of Robert’s brothers, says now that Robert is back, he has happily relinquished the title of being the baby of the family to his younger brother. AJ traveled from Jacksonville, Florida, to attend the barbecue and meet his long lost sibling.

“This has been a life-changing moment for my family. There wasn’t anything more important than being there for this reunion with my family. I’m happy, but I’m sad because my mother’s not here to see her children reunited,” said AJ.

At their reunion, the siblings discovered Eloise had worked at the same hospital as Robert’s birth mother at one point during their childhood. And, Sonya and her mother had visited a store Robert owned in the late 1990s, unaware that the store owner they interacted with was their son and brother.

“With the exception of my brother in Florida, we all live within a ten minute drive of each other. Our paths crossed several times, but we had no idea,” said Robert.

Robert Allen Jr. and siblings Stacey, Sonya, AJ and David, with adoptive mother Eloise Allen and uncle (on his mother's side) Donald.Courtesy of AJ Jordan

The family plans to spend the next few months getting to know one another and has planned several Sunday afternoon dinners and gatherings to help them get acquainted with their little brother.

Sonya says if her mother were alive today, she’d be happy to see her children reconnecting, adding that she always talked about the baby she’d given up years earlier.

“She struggled. Her having him was probably just a lot. She was a single mother, and it was a lot to raise him — maybe one more mouth to feed was a little too much for her. But she loved him. She talked about him and we wondered where he was. She always hoped that whoever had him took care of him and loved him. I told him her greatest thing was to give him up so he could have a better life. That was her love for him,” said Sonya.