'It's like they were never separated': The boys who met as friends and discovered they were brothers

By Beth Stebner

PUBLISHED: 18:03 EST, 27 November 2012 | UPDATED: 19:46 EST, 27 November 2012

Two young boys who were playing at a pool last summer discovered they looked incredibly similar – they even had the same walk.

But Isaac Noltin, 12, and Dakotah Zimmer, 13, were in for the shock of their lives to discover there was more than met the eye with their similar appearances: they were brothers.

Dakotah told Isaac that he knew he had a brother he’d never met who was adopted by a woman named Dawn. ‘That’s my mom’s name,’ Isaac responded.

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Siblings: 'I could tell because of the nose,' said Dakotah Zimmer (middle, flanked by siblings Ashley and Issac) of how he knew that a boy he had met by chance at the Washington pool was actually his younger brother, Isaac, who had been adopted some 10 years earlier

The touching story of how Dakotah and Isaac met is one of anxiety for Isaac’s adoptive mother, Dawn Noltin.

Ms Noltin, who works as a manager for a dry-cleaning company, told her story to TODAY.com, saying that she wrestled with when to tell her son that he was adopted.

For weeks before Isaac and Dakotah met, she had been asking her friends and pastor how to tell her son that he had a brother, but knew it had to be before the boys started school.

They would be attending the same middle school in Washington, Missouri and would surely find out one way or another.

The night after Isaac and Dakotah met, Isaac approached his mother and asked if he was adopted.

When Ms Nolting, 42, asked why he thought that, her son responded: ‘Because I think I found my brother.’

The mother and son both started crying. ‘I was so happy that I had a brother,’ Isaac explained to TODAY.com. ‘I had always asked for one.’

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Reunited: Mother Dawn Zimmer together again with her son years after she put him up for adoption

Ms Nolting had met Isaac’s mother several years ago when she was heading out to dinner with her ex-husband. A friend of Ms Nolting’s ex-husband invited them to meet his girlfriend and their newborn son.

The 16-year-old mother had just given birth to Isaac nine days before, and also had a one-year-old son – Dakotah.

Ms Noltin had been a single mother herself, having her own daughter at 19. She told TODAY.com that her maternal instincts kicked in, and she offered to take care of the newborn.

Months passed, and Ms Noltin received a call that Isaac’s biological mother was pregnant again. The woman’s grandmother asked if Ms Noltin wished to legally adopt Isaac. Eighteen months later, and Isaac was legally hers.

Isaac’s biological mother died in 2007, and his biological father died a year later; Dakotah and his older sister, Ashley, were sent to live with the woman’s mother, Debi Bay.

Ms Bay said that Dakotah always knew he had a brother. ‘I’m just glad they got to meet,’ she said of her grandsons’ clandestine encounter.

Though the two didn’t know of each other’s existence for more than a decade, it seems as though they grew up together, Ms Noltin said. ‘It’s like they were never separated,’ she observed.

By Staff 11/27/2012 11:46:00