Two young boys were clowning around at their local pool in the summer of 2012 when they each noticed something uncanny: they looked remarkably alike. As a result, the boys went away and did some digging. And what they discovered would change their lives forever.
Isaac Nolting is 17 and comes from the small city of Washington in Missouri. He lives with his mom, Dawn, and grew up with his older sister, Krystyn. Isaac’s elder sibling has since moved out to start her own family, but back in 2012 Dawn had two mouths to feed. In order to provide for her beloved children, then, Dawn worked as a manager at a local dry-cleaning company.
And because Dawn worked full time, the school vacation presented her with a dilemma. Indeed, she often found it hard to keep the then 12-year-old Isaac occupied and out of mischief during the long summer break. As a result, Dawn bought the youngster a pool pass for the local Agnes Nolting Aquatic Complex. Little did she know that another guardian just 12 miles away had had a similar idea…
Still, Dawn’s thinking was that Isaac could hang out with his friends and keep cool in the water. And that’s exactly what the youngster was doing at the community pool one day in June 2012. In fact, Isaac was messing around with his buddies when a slightly older boy became involved in their fun and games. And as part of the group’s antics, Isaac and the new arrival started to playfully splash each other.
The new boy’s name was Dakotah Zimmer. Dakotah was then 13 years old and lived in the nearby city of Augusta, MO. Later in 2012, he spoke with Today about his first meeting with Isaac. He recalled, “I kept splashing him. He goes, ‘Why you backing up?’ And he had, like, that expression, like, ‘Why you backing up?’” Meanwhile, Isaac added that he kept on teasing his new friend, accusing him of being scared.
Their playful banter didn’t go unnoticed by Isaac’s friends. One of them, a boy called Jayden, even remarked that the pair were fighting just like brothers. That is when the two boys looked at each other properly for the first time. Isaac thought there was a definite similarity in appearance between himself and Dakotah. But his mom had never told him about any estranged sibling, so he simply shrugged it off.
But it was a different story for young Dakotah. Raised by his grandmother, he was indeed aware that he had a long-lost brother. So, in his mind, Dakotah began to question whether he might have just found him. “I look at Isaac and, at first, I’m like, ‘He sort of looks like me,’ and stuff. So I was starting to get, like, curious,” he told Today.
Consequently, Dakotah began to explain to his newfound friends at the pool that he had a mysterious brother. The young boy then told the gang of how a lady called Dawn had adopted his younger sibling when he was just a toddler. “That’s my mom’s name,” a confused Isaac remarked.
Understandably, Dakotah’s story was too much of a coincidence for Isaac not to explore further. So when the boy got home that evening, he sat his mom down and asked her a question. It was a query that he no doubt never thought he would have to ask of his mom. And one that Dawn had hoped to never hear. Yes, Isaac wanted to know if she had adopted him when he was too young to remember.
“I went to go ask my mom. I told her to sit down on her bed and then I asked her,” Isaac later revealed to Today. His mom’s response was instant. She said, “Isaac, what makes you think that?” He then told Dawn that he had just met his big brother, and the adoptive mom had little choice but to come clean.
In an emotional exchange, Dawn explained to Isaac that indeed she had adopted him. Moreover, she had been grappling with how to break the news to him for some time. “I just didn’t know how to tell him,” she told local news website the Emissourian in 2012. “I never knew when was the best time. I talked with experts and relatives but never knew when I should do it.”
Now, events had forced Dawn’s hand; it was time to tell the whole truth. She told Isaac that she had first met his biological mom at a restaurant when the woman was in a relationship with a friend of her ex-husband. And that was when the couple had invited Dawn to come and meet their newborn son.
Dawn also told Isaac that by the time he came along his biological mom already had 13-month-old Dakotah to cope with. And, Dawn said, she was struggling. After all, Isaac’s mom was just 16, and – having been a teenage mother herself – Dawn knew how hard things could be.
Consequently, Dawn had offered to care for the nine-day-old baby, and Isaac’s mom had agreed. Dawn then explained to Isaac how he had come to live with her and the then 12-year-old Krystyn. Dawn also told him how his birth mother called regularly to check up on him and even visited from time to time. Then, when Isaac was just 18-months-old, Dawn had officially adopted him.
Sadly, Isaac’s biological mom passed away in 2007, and his birth father died a year later. As a result, his brother, Dakotah, and his little sister, Ashley, had gone to live with their biological grandmother, Debbi Bay. In fact, their granny had raised Isaac’s immediate kin just a short car ride away from Washington. And somehow the siblings had never crossed paths – until now.
So, following Isaac and Dakotah’s chance meeting at the swimming pool, Dawn spoke to Granny Debbi for the first time since Isaac’s adoption. And as the boys had already met and seemed to enjoy each other’s company, Dawn and Debbi decided to let them continue to reconnect. Therefore, the pair started hanging out together regularly.
Now that the two boys were together again, it was hard to believe that they had ever been apart. Aside from their physical similarities and common mannerisms, Isaac and Dakotah both enjoyed the same sports and video games. They even had a similar taste in clothes and hairstyles. But most important of all, the two boys shared a special kind of brotherly love.
And despite the initial shock of finding out he was adopted, Isaac could not have been happier with how things turned out. “I just cried and cried and cried,” he told Today. “I was so happy that I had a brother. I always asked for one.” The news segment was later uploaded to YouTube, and it has since gone viral with almost eight million views.
Before long, then, the two brothers were inseparable. Yes, Isaac and Dakotah enjoyed sleepovers at each other’s homes, rode their bikes together and played their video games. In the months that followed their serendipitous encounter, they even got to celebrate their birthdays together. Furthermore, they excitedly made plans to spend future school vacations with each other.
And their families enjoyed watching the boys get reunited, too. “You can just tell they’re brothers,” Dawn said to Today. “It’s the strongest bond that I’ve ever seen. It’s like they were never separated. For being apart for ten years and 20 minutes away, they picked up right where they left off.” It’s like Isaac and Dakotah discovered that day in 2012 at the local pool: blood is thicker than water.