John Pritchard, 78, had no idea his son Carl Benson existed for more than 50 years. That changed when he received an email from a stranger.
DNA tests have been an effective tool in reuniting families across the world. In one story, a son was reunited with his parents 32 years after being kidnapped as a 2-year-old child. In another one, a homeless man reunited with his son after a decade of separation. Many people don't even know about the existence of family members until proven otherwise. When they do learn about it, their reunions are often incredibly emotional.
Take the story of 78-year-old John Pritchard, who had no idea his son Carl Benson existed for over 50 years. That is until he received an email from a man claiming to be his son. Benson, 56, sent his DNA sample to an ancestry website and received shocking results. Pritchard was even more stunned by the results. According to BBC, Benson told Pritchard, "You and I have a 100% DNA parent/child relationship. I would dearly love the chance to talk [or] meet with you to put the final pieces of the jigsaw together."
Family: 'A stranger emailed me saying he was my son'https://t.co/K82yL1X9Ra— Becky (@ducksfan141) July 30, 2023
Pritchard, who was born in the seaside town of Porthcawl in Bridgend County, Wales, was one of many babies fathered during World War II by American GIs. Pritchard had a difficult childhood and ended up being taken into care after abuse from his stepfather. At 16 years old, he left Wales and became a railway driver in Didcot, Oxfordshire. Not only did he end up staying there for five years, but that's when he met Benson's mother during a brief romance. Later he met Jill, the woman who would become his wife. During this time, he never knew he had fathered a son... until October 18, 2021.
"A few years ago, my son Jason decided to get me a DNA test for fun as a Christmas present," he shared. "I did it but never followed it up... it was just interesting to see the background." It led to Benson eventually making the connection. "I got in contact with John's cousin through a guy called Mick Henry, the chair of the Brighton and Hove genealogical society," he said. "He went through all the data, found his cousin and asked her if she could ask John if I could reach out. She said yes, and that's when I sent the bombshell email saying, 'Hi, I'm your son.'"
The letter went on to say, "I fully understand that this is potentially a total bombshell and a result that neither of us had ever expected to come across. But what I will say is that this all happened well over half a century ago and there is nobody on my side who can be hurt by this revelation. I would dearly love the chance to talk/meet with you to put the final pieces of the jigsaw together."
And that's exactly how it went. The puzzle seemed to fit perfectly. Benson revealed, "We chatted unusually naturally, and it became very obvious that we shared very similar backgrounds, traits, beginnings, likes, dislikes." After asking about his mother, Pritchard said he knew "straight away that everything fitted into place." When the two met, the likeness was uncanny. "It was just the most surreal journey of my life. I met the guy: same height as me, big hands and I thought crikey, this is right and wrong on every level," shared Benson.
Imagine receiving an email from a total stranger, saying he was your son.— Jared Evitts (@evitts_jared) July 30, 2023
Well, that’s exactly what happened to John Pritchard.
Thanks so much to John and Carl for trusting me to tell their remarkable story:https://t.co/FcLLQ0yzI1
"We got on like a house on fire. I was just very grateful that he was even alive, and he could have said, 'I don't want to know.' You talk about nature versus nurture. We've got the same sense of humor, we're both into motorbikes, we're both into fitness. It's uncanny you can be so similar to somebody you've actually never met," Benson added.
"He's a great guy, we really hit it off. It's just sad that we've lost 55 years - but that's life," Pritchard said. "I felt sad that he could have been my son from the start, but he's a lovely guy with a lovely family and I only wish I'd met him many, many years ago."