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Web Exclusive: Facebook friends discover they're family

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(CNN/WQAD) - We all hear stories of people using social networking sites like Facebook to find lost-lost relatives, but what if you were already friends with the person you're looking for? It's an unusual story of connecting that happened in Iowa.

It started with a status. Paula O'Brien was sharing an article about adoption and a date her family never forgot.

"It was really hard for my entire family to deal with," Paula O'Brien said. "We experienced that loss and we never forgot about that baby. We never gave up her. We observed her birthday every year. It never left our minds."

For years, Paula wondered what had happened to her niece-- where she lived, her hobbies, if they looked alike, but she already knew.

"I had done theater in the area," says Paula. "She's done theater in the area so we knew a lot of the same people so we met through mutual friends. In fact, I think it was one of the first times we met when people were joking that we looked alike and we just thought it was funny."

"It was just like of a coincidence that we looked like each other," says Abbey Donohoe. Paula recalls, "We have the same chin."

It wasn't until more than three years after meeting that Paula and Abbey discovered they were actually related.

"I was at home and just reading though my feed on my Facebook and I just happened to see September 19th,″ says Abbey.

"Abbey happened to comment and say-- 'That's my birthday.' I had the year wrong.  I thought it was 1982, because I was a kid."

Abbey said, "You sure it wasn't 1983? It could have been me and then she sent me a private message with the birth parents' names."

"She e-mailed back and said – ‘Oh my goodness, it sounds like you're my Aunt!'" Abbey replied, "Yes it was me."

Now 29 years old, Abbey is adding another family to her life.

"It's been nice reading emails and starting to get in contact with people and ‘friend'-ing new aunts that are in the area," says Abbey.

"This is truly a miracle," says Paula. "We just feel like our prayers have been answered."

From a computer to a couch.  All because of a post between two friends who are now family.

And now comes another reunion.  Paula's mom is planning to come to visit from Arizona next week to see her granddaughter Abbey for the first time since she was born.

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