- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

WILTON, Conn. (AP) Gary Klahr and Steven Barbin met decades ago and became close friends so close that Mr. Klahr was the best man at Mr. Barbin's wedding and once signed a photograph: "You are truly my brother."
How truly, they had no idea.
A search of adoption records three years ago revealed that Mr. Barbin, 49, and Mr. Klahr, 52, really were brothers.
This Christmas, the two men, their families and those of three other siblings they didn't know about until a few years ago celebrated Christmas at Mr. Klahr's home in Wilton.
"Gary and I have always felt a special bond between us," said Mr. Barbin, who works in shipping. They met in a bar, he said, and immediately hit it off.
Then three years ago, a man in the area contacted state officials seeking information from his adoption file for medical reasons. That man also discovered he was one of nine in a family of 13 whose parents had given them up for adoption.
Nancy Sitterly, the caseworker who dug up the records at the Department of Children and Families, contacted the eight others. She called Mr. Klahr first.
Mr. Klahr was surprised to learn he was adopted, since the couple who raised him had never told him. Mr. Klahr told Miss Sitterly that he would be turning to his best friend for support.
"I said, 'My best friend was adopted, and he's OK with it, so I guess I will be too,'" he recalled. "Then she asked me, 'What's your friend's name?' When I told her, there was a short silence on the line, then she asked me for Steven's number."
Mr. Klahr suspected what she was about to divulge.
"I said, 'Wait, if you are going to tell me that my best friend for 25 years is really my brother, you will be giving me the greatest gift on earth,'" he recalled.
Mr. Klahr also discovered that his gym workout partner was another of his brothers, and a girl he briefly dated in the 1970s was actually his sister.
"If there was any forgiving to do, we did it pretty quickly," Mr. Klahr said yesterday. "Thank God we didn't get married."
Their birth parents were Polish Catholic, but Mr. Klahr, Mr. Barbin and three of their siblings were raised by Jewish families.
"They used to call me 'Jew boy' and spit on me," Mr. Klahr recalled of his childhood. "I was one of the only Jewish kids in the neighborhood and I got picked on a lot."
But he was also a star athlete in high school in Fairfield and later played football with the New Orleans Saints.
Their tale was featured earlier this year on NBC's "Dateline," and Mr. Klahr was writing a book.

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