Irondequoit, N.Y. – A father and daughter are reunited after 36 years.
“It feels like a dream, it doesn’t feel like reality yet,” said John Padula.
Padula is 63-years-old and, for all accounts, has a good life.
But he and his wife never had children, a piece he says was missing until last week.
“I’m a Dad. It’s fantastic, it’s fantastic, I love it. It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle, it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Padula. “I never had love, parent loving a daughter. I never felt that kind of love, and at 63-years-old that’s great.”
His daughter, Nichole Kelly, thought she knew who her biological father was until she looked into her ancestry on ancestry.com.
“I never really searched for my father,” said Kelly, “but the man that I thought was my biological father was Irish. So a year ago, somebody said, ‘Let’s do the ancestry test,’ and we did the DNA, mailed it in and when we got the results, I realized I’m not Irish. There was nothing there.”
She then learned there was a tool to search for family matches.
“I was hoping to find some answers there, and that’s when I found a very shocking, 99 percent accurate match of a name I’ve never heard of before,” said Kelly.
The name was John Padula’s father. He and his daughter happened to be looking into his family heritage at the same time.
Kelly, who grew up in the Rochester area but now lives in Florida, reached out to the account’s owner, telling them she would be coming to town.
“I found the person who managed the account, who now I know is my Aunt Maria. I sent her a message through Facebook. It was the hardest message I’ve ever sent. I literally closed my eyes and pressed send,” said Kelly. “I heard nothing back, so I reached out again a week later, and she kind of stalled again. So I bugged her again a week later – so it was like, weeks at a time, ‘It’s me again.’ The ironic thing is this hurricane [Irma], because I live in Florida, forced us to come home. We decided to evacuate, and I messaged her one time and said I’m coming home, let’s use this opportunity. And she went and told my dad, she has news because she’s [Nichole] coming.”
The two met for the first time at a lab on Friday, Kelly’s birthday, for more DNA testing.
“The only flight we could get out of Florida was on my birthday, so we decided, when I got in, we would meet at a lab and do another test just to be 100 percent sure,” said Kelly.
Upstate DNA Testing conducted the test and reaffirmed what both already knew in their hearts: They’re father a daughter.
“Honestly, it was love at first sight. I took right to him, I looked into his eyes and I saw my dad,” said Kelly.
“I wish somebody else could feel it. 10 people, 1000 people could feel this thing. This is great,” said Padula. “It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.”
And it’s why they’re sharing their story, hoping that someone else will look to see if they have any family they don’t know they’re missing.
“No matter how many people come into your life, there’s enough love for everyone. So no matter how big your family could get, even in an unexpected way such as this, if you have a big enough heart you can fit in as many people that are out there,” said Kelly.
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