SANTA MARIA, Calif. — The Cabreana family thought that the grandson they loved and cared for died from a burst appendix when he was 9 years old.
So when they received a call from a 26-year-old man earlier this month, claiming he was their grandson, the family was in shock.
Daniel was about 4 when his grandparents, Ernie and Iree Cabreana, gave him a home for about a year while his father tried to rebuild his life.
They were ready to adopt him and enroll the boy in school when their son, Cedric (Flip) Taporco, said he was eager to have his child back.
That was the last Daniel's grandparents saw of him. For the next couple of years he was shuttled between his mother and father, who were divorced.
The Cabreanas lost track of their son for nearly a decade, and along with him, they lost contact with Daniel.
But in 1983, the Cabreanas found their son and they heard terrible news. Daniel had died from a burst appendix when he was 9, he said. Taporco said he had been told that by his ex-wife who had Daniel at the time.
"The first thing everyone asked him was, 'Where's Daniel?' " recalled Cedric's sister, Robyn Kocyla. "The family mourned the loss."
But in fact, Daniel was very much alive. He had been given up for adoption and had spent several years in various foster homes before being adopted by a family when he was 8.
In recent years he wondered why his parents gave him up, and took action to find his relatives this month after seeing a television show about a group that helps find lost people.
Through the assistance of a national searching service, Daniel had the names of 17 relatives within four days.
"It makes me very excited to be a part of this other family after all these years," he said. "It almost made me cry when Robyn told me they've always kept me in their hearts."
Daniel and his father gathered with relatives in his grandparents' home in Santa Maria this month. Daniel, who lives near Walnut Creek, is married and awaiting the birth of his first child.
"This whole thing is really weird," Daniel said. "I had the best family that an adopted person could ever have. But now I have a whole new family."