CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. — A Cliffside Park father was recently united with the 40-year-old daughter he never knew he had, thanks to social media.
"All those years there was something missing in my life," said Al Annunziata, 63, who met Jyll Justamond, 40, at Gianna's restaurant in Carlstadt Sunday.
"I always had that in the back of my mind. And I was right."
Annunziata, a White Plains, NY native, received a Facebook friend request from a woman named Jyll Tooker (now Jyll Justamond) in April.
He recognized the last name as it belonged to a woman he knew when he worked at Neary's, a bar in Palisades Park, in the 1970s.
He thought it was a relative of hers checking in on him, until he got a Facebook message from her:
"Are you Al?" asked Justamond. He said yes. "Did you ever work at a bar in Palisades Park?"
That's when Annunziata knew something was up, and he gave her his number immediately.
Justamond of Colorado explained her mom was never forthcoming about who her father was, but she was determined to find him.
After many years of research and one negative paternity test, Justamond asked people in a Palisades Park nostalgia Facebook group to help direct her to her father.
She tracked down the owner of Neary's, the bar her father worked at when he met her mom, and sent him a friend request.
They spent the past two months putting pieces together and getting to know each other. Annunziata says Justamond's mom once came back to Neary's and told him she was pregnant, but it was with another man's baby.
He had his doubts for years, he said. And meeting Justamond this week only reaffirmed what he thought was true.
"It's been surreal, honestly," said Justamond, who was raised by her grandfather and his wife, her mom's step-mother.
"It's like I've known him my entire life. I feel like I'm talking to another part of myself and it feels completely normal."
Justmond, who flew out from Colorado for the pre-Father's Day celebrations, has very simple advice for people looking for their biological parents:
"Don't give up," she said.
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