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Woman’s plea to members of popular Facebook group led to reunion with long-lost father

By Kimberly Craig, Jon Austin

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    SOUTHFIELD, Michigan (WXYZ) — “Looking for my dad,” 25-year-old Jordyn O’Neil wrote in a Facebook post. “.. this pic is from 1997. His name is Brian, last seen working at Harbor Freight in Southgate. Does anyone recognize him? He’d be in his 50’s by now. Thanks.”

What O’Neil couldn’t have realized was how quickly members of Downriver and Friends, a very popular Facebook group, would respond. And it was immediate.

“I didn’t have any information on him growing up. No one would give me his name. I didn’t have pictures. I didn’t have anything,” O’Neil told 7 Action News Wednesday.

O’Neil was raised by her maternal grandmother after her mom died when when she was 10-years-old.

What O’Neil said she would later learn is that after she was born in 1997, her father began raising her as a single dad.

She said her mother had other priorities, but then came and took her from her father when she was 8-months-old and moved to Texas.

O’Neil’s grandmother, who adopted her after her mom died, died in 2020.

Eager to find her father, O’Neil tried AncestryDNA, but it was a dead-end. She then reached out to her only known living relative, her grandmother’s sister.

“I asked, ‘Do you have any information? You’re, like, my last hope.’ And she said that she actually had pictures of him. Those pictures had been long-forgotten in an attic.

There were two pictures from 1997. One showed her mom pregnant and standing next to her boyfriend, O’Neil’s father. The second picture showed the couple cradling their new baby girl.

O’Neil said someone told her how helpful the Facebook group Downriver and Friends has been to so many others and to give it a shot and post the old pictures there in hopes that someone might be able to help her find her father.

O’Neil said it was her only hope and “it blew up.”

“There were people that were sending me his phone number, his address. Somebody went to his house and knocked on the door to tell him about the post,” she said.

And in the morning, O’Neil called the man she’d been searching for. And on the other end was Brian Ahern.

“I used to wonder all the time about her. I thought about her quite a bit over the years,” Ahern said, adding that he thought one day they’ll find each other.

On Sunday, O’Neil was reunited with her father.

“My first thought was, wow, I look exactly like this man. There was no denying that this is my dad,” she said.

Ahern said he didn’t have any other children. And the day he met his daughter, he also met his 3-month-old grandson Asher.

“I got the whole package right away, didn’t I?” he said.

O’Neil said finding her father is like finding the missing piece of a puzzle. They now talk every day and he’s told her how much love she’s brought back into his life.

“I struggled with depression my whole life,” she said. “And now I just feel so grateful to still be here to experience this love and support from strangers on the internet and now finding my dad.”

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