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Facebook group reunites Metro Detroit father and daughter after more than 2 decades


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    DETROIT, Michigan (WWJ) — The power of social media helped a young woman and her father reunite after a local Facebook group identified him.

Jordyn O’Neil’s life has had its ups and downs. She tells CBS News Detroit that when she was born, her dad wasn’t put on her birth certificate because her mother liked to have that type of control.

O’Neil says her parents split in 1997 when she was born. For the first few months of her life, her father took care of her while her mom left.

“One day when I was 8 months old, my mom showed up and took me to Texas and he never heard from her again,” she said.

O’Neil says her mom liked to live in the fast lane and she was eventually taken to live with her grandma in Alabama. Her grandmother and her husband later adopted O’Neil.

“The lifestyle my mom had, my grandma always told me not to worry about it. That I had her and that’s all I ever needed. Grandma kind of played the role of everyone,” she said.

When O’Neil was 7 years old, her mom returned to Alabama to join them. A few years went by and her mom died in 2008.

She finished grade school and then tragedy struck the family again in 2020 when her grandmother died.

“She really was my whole heart. After I lost her, I wanted to know who else I had,” she said.

Life took a turn for O’Neil after her grandmother’s passing.

“I just didn’t have the love and support that I needed so I coped in my own way. After losing my grandmother, that was it for me.”

With not really much to go on, she started digging online, using websites to locate her ancestors. At one point she began calling around town to see if anyone knew anything about her dad.

“I knew where I was born and my mom’s name,” she said.

Growing up, her mom had a friend that stayed in the metro area; that friend got in touch with her and convinced her to come back to Michigan. Once back in town, a relative was able to find photos of her parents, but still no identity on who her father was.

In March, O’Neil posted a message on the Downriver and Friends Facebook page. Within minutes, dozens chimed in.

“Everybody’s like ‘Oh, I know him. Here’s his number and here’s his address. I know what bar he used to go to,'” she said.

For more than 20 years, she was left in the dark about who her father was, but a Facebook group identified him within 30 minutes.

“All those strangers, none of those people had to tell me anything,” she said.

The next day, she called a man named Brian and asked did he know of a Denise from 1997.

“He’s like ‘Yeah and I think I’m your dad.’ and I’m like ‘I’m glad you said it because I wasn’t going to start off with it,'” she said of conversation with Brian.

O’Neil currently resides in Novi, and her father is in Lincoln Park. The two recently met in person after several years.

“I wanted that first hug and really just to connect,” she told CBS News Detroit.

O’Neil, who is a new mother herself, wants her son to grow up knowing his grandfather, a sentiment she says her dad also shares.

Her father has several siblings scattered across the country, and she’s beginning to meet the family she never knew she had.

CBS News Detroit: “Have you ever felt this loved before?”

O’Neil: “No…I don’t think so.”

She is soaking in being reunited with her long-lost dad.

“If I don’t answer with like ‘Hey, dad,’ he’ll be like ‘Come on where’s the dad part.’ And I’ll be like ‘Hey, dad’ and he’ll say ‘Hey, daughter,'” she said. “I think we just like hearing that.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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