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Ont. man, 81, meets his 57-year-old son for the first time after Swedish man's decades-long search

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As a young man, Jim Oran's life took unexpected turns, ultimately leading him to Sweden, where he encountered a woman who would later give birth to a child he never knew existed.

More than a decade later, teenager Michael Anderberg began to ponder the identity of his biological father.

But a pivotal Christmas gift from Anderberg's daughter brought his lifelong search to an end, resulting in an emotional meeting and the commencement of a new chapter for the 81-year-old father from Windsor, Ont., and his 57-year-old son who resides overseas.

How did Jim Oran end up in Sweden?

Wartime unrest in Albania around the 1940s resulted in Oran and his family fleeing to Yugoslavia when he was just two weeks old, he said.

"We didn't like being in Yugoslavia because we had essentially escaped from one communist country and arrived to another communist country. So we escaped to Greece," Oran explained.

Though Oran and his family wanted to move to the U.S., they were eventually moved to a refugee camp in Sweden in the late 1950s.

Oran found himself in Sweden when he was around 12 years old and stayed there for the next three decades — until he moved to Canada in his 40s.

During his time in Sweden, he had an intimate relationship with a woman who would eventually give birth to a boy.

"Things were different in the 1960s in Sweden," explained Oran. "The population was 99.9 per cent Swedish. There was just a handful of foreigners. I think she didn't want to say who the father was because I was not Swedish-born."

Jim Oran and Michael Anderberg are seen in these undated photos from their younger days. (Source: Michael Anderberg)

How did Michael Anderberg locate his biological father?

Michael Anderberg was born in Sweden in 1967 and grew up in the country's third-largest city — Malmö — under the care of his mother and grandmother.

It was around the age of 15, he said, when his desire to locate his biological father started to build.

"In Malmö, there were many people there from Yugoslavia. But I realized they didn't have much information. My mother didn't give me any information either," said Anderberg.

After years of investigation without getting any closer to finding his father, Anderberg said he "buried that dream" by the age of 30.

"I accepted it. There are many boys and girls and children who don't have father...so I will live without my father," he said. "But I was always jealous of my friends in school who had both their father and mother."

In 2019, everything changed.

That's when Anderberg's daughter, who was fully aware of her father's situation, gifted him a DNA ancestry test for Christmas.

"She knew I had a dream. Maybe it was a long shot...but the DNA test would make it possible," he said.

About a year and a half later, Anderberg said, he received a call from Los Angeles. On the other end was a person in Los Angeles who coincidentally shared the same first name of Michael.

"He said, 'I think we are half brothers.’ I was in absolute shock. I immediately phoned my wife to tell her the day has come," said Anderberg.

A few days later, Anderberg and Oran spoke over the phone.

How did the two finally meet?

In 2019, Oran received a call from who he thought was his eldest of six children — the same Michael who lives in Los Angeles.

"He asked if I was sitting down because he had something to tell me," said Oran. "He said, 'I'm not the oldest one anymore. I'm not the firstborn because you've got another son in Sweden.' Are you kidding me? I couldn't believe it."

Over the next few years, Oran and Anderberg would exchange text messages and phone calls.

But between the COVID-19 pandemic and Oran falling temporarily ill, it was near impossible for the father to fly to Sweden to meet his newly-discovered son.

Instead, Anderberg made plans to fly to Detroit, Mich., which shares a land border with Windsor, where Oran and his wife live.

This past Thursday, Anderberg landed at Detroit Metropolian Airport where he was able to hug his biological father for the very first time.

"I never thought this would be real," said Anderberg, just seconds after meeting his father at the airport.

Tap on the video above to witness the moment when Anderberg and Oran finally get a chance to hug for the very first time.

What's next for the newly-connected father and son?

Anderberg and his wife, who accompanied him on this milestone visit, are spending two weeks living at Oran and his wife's home in Windsor.

Oran has made it clear he is not looking forward to the day when he has to drop Anderberg to the airport.

"I don't know how I'll react when he goes back. We were very emotional in the beginning and we still are now," said Oran at his home, adding he already plans on visiting Sweden next year to meet Anderberg's three children. "I also want to see my old town and where I grew up, but hope I'm healthy enough to do that."

As for Anderberg, he said he feels no ill will toward his father for being absent through most of his life.

"As a young boy, I was angry. I always thought the day I find him and I can ask him why he wasn't there for me. But with all the information, I know why now," said Anderberg. "You can only look forward. We have decided to take this time we have together and it let be a chapter in our life. It's a treasure."

In terms of how this experience has changed him, Anderberg said his life feels more "natural" now.

"It feels so good to just live an ordinary life. I'm not a tourist here," said Anderberg. "I just want to be integrated in the daily life here to and live some days with my dad. It's wonderful. That's what I wanted my life to be."

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