Here’s How a Group of Facebook Strangers Helped a Woman Find Her Long-Last Dad After 25 Years
Dozens of complete strangers provide the missing link to help a woman find her dad…
Jordyn O’Neil was only eight months old when her mother decided to leave her father in Michigan and move to Texas.
She doesn’t remember it, of course, but her beloved grandmother used to tell her the story.
That’s because O’Neil’s grandmother became her legal guardian when O’Neil was just a year old.
“My mother…took me to my grandmother’s in Alabama, dropped me off, and said, ‘I’m done being a parent. Here she is.’ So that’s when my grandmother and her husband went through full adoption with me,” O’Neil said. After that, O’Neil had little to no contact with her mother.
The same could be said for Brian Ahern — O’Neil’s father.
Back in Michigan, he thought about little Jordyn every day and tried to keep in contact with her mother.
“I had her [Jordyn] for the first eight months, and then her mother was involved with that eight months too, don’t get me wrong. Then her mother just came—I just got [done] changing her diapers—her mother came and just grabbed her and said, ‘I’m moving to Texas.’ And that’s the last time I saw her,” Ahern recalled.
He struggled to keep in contact with O’Neil’s mother; at one point, she changed her phone number. Within a year, he had lost all contact with her and his baby daughter. “I prayed to have her back in my life,” he said.
Raised by her grandmother After Years of Tragedy
When O’Neil was still young, her mother passed away.
Her grandmother in Alabama raised her, and while she thought about her father from time to time, she didn’t remember anything about him. She had a loving family. It was only when her grandmother passed away that O’Neil became acutely aware that she was now alone in the world.
“After she passed away,” explained O’Neil, “I started looking for family members or anybody that would want to know that she had passed. She was everything to me, and so after losing her, [it] was really hard. I wanted to know who else I had left, as far as my father and maybe his side of the family, thinking, I could lean on them for support and just have them back in my life.”
But where would she start?
She didn’t know anything more about her biological father than that her mother had left him in Michigan. She didn’t know his name, where he lived now, or even what he looked like. “After searching and searching and searching, I just kept hitting dead ends because I didn’t have any information on him. You know, you can’t really find someone if you don’t know who you’re looking for,” O’Neil said.
She wants to find her dad…but who is she looking for?
For a while, the idea of searching for him seemed like a fool’s errand. And then her boyfriend suggested that she take a DNA test. The results might lead her to a family member.
O’Neil’s boyfriend was right.
The results of an Ancestry DNA kit led O’Neil to her great-aunt Pamela. Pamela knew her father’s name. She even had a couple of pictures of him.
With this little bit of information, O’Neil knew that her best chance of finding her father would be to share the information with the greatest number of people possible.
What better, then, than social media?
O’Neil went to Facebook and searched for local community pages in the areas of Michigan where her father might be.
She posted the pictures of Brain Ahern with this message: “Looking for my dad…this pic is from 1997. His name is Brian, last seen working at harbor freight in southgate [sic]. Does anybody recognize him? He’d be in his 50’s by now. Thanks.”
Facebook group helps a woman find her dad
It didn’t take long for Facebook users to identify him.
Ahern was well-known in his community. Comments on O’Neil’s post flooded in, particularly in a group called “Downriver and Friends.” People messaged O’Neil with her father’s phone number and even his address, eager to help this woman find her dad.
Meanwhile, in Lincoln Park, Michigan, friends of Brian Ahern were knocking excitedly at his door. His phone was ringing nonstop. When Ahern opened his door to them, his friends said that his daughter was looking for him. For some reason, he remembers, he didn’t feel shocked.
“I didn’t have any doubts because I know all those guys that came over my house, all my construction buddies,” he said. He had never stopped praying that he would be reunited with his daughter.
So, when that day came, he wasn’t shocked. He was excited.
O’Neil, on the other hand, was a mix of nervousness and gratitude. “Those people,” she said of all the strangers that came to her aid on Facebook, “didn’t have to share anything with me. They don’t have to be loving and supportive, but they have been and my heart really just goes out to those people. It’s been an amazing journey and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
After hitting so many dead ends in her search for her father, O’Neil could scarcely believe that the day had finally come—thanks to complete strangers who saw a photo on Facebook and worked together to become the missing link that would reunite father and daughter.
When O’Neil got out of the car and set eyes on her father for the first time in over two decades, she had to smile. They look so much alike. “I think we both just kind of sat there looking at each other,” she said of that first meeting, “soaking it in.”
A new beginning for Father & daughter (and Baby)
Since then, O’Neil and her father speak on the phone every day. Ahern wants to be present and active—not just in his daughter’s life, but also in the life of O’Neil’s son, his three-month-old grandson, Asher. O’Neil wants that, too: “Being able to pick up the phone and be like, ‘Hey, Dad,’ it’s surreal. It leaves me speechless even still. I still just can’t believe it.”
When this young woman found herself alone in the world and yearning for a father she had no idea how to find, she opened up her heart to strangers. She shared her story with a sea of people who seemingly had no connection to her. And yet, they stepped in to help this woman find her dad.
They filled in the missing pieces, and now O’Neil, Ahern, and baby Asher’s story can continue.
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