A Tampa Bay mother has been reunited with her daughter through Facebook after spending decades apart.
Mother, Lilly Martin, said her husband took her two girls to the Middle East 21 years ago because he wanted the girls to grow up with his religious beliefs. She came home one day, and they were gone. Delal was only 3. Lamia was an infant.
“I’m happy. Of course I am. I’m with my mom now,” Delal said.
Martin tried to find her girls but was unable to do so for almost 21 years.
“It started like a nightmare,” Martin said. “I talked to the State Department and to the United Nations to find my children. It was impossible.”
Days turned into months. Months turned into years, then decades passed without knowing anything about her daughters.
Martin set up a Facebook account, where her oldest daughter Delal, got a hold of her. She had been trying to find her mother from Syria for more than 10 years.
“To talk about me was taboo,” Martin said. “They hid it. It was like a secret.”
Wednesday, Martin and her now 25-year-old daughter saw each other at Tampa International Airport for the first time in almost 21 years.
She said Delal still has the same smile and eyes as she did the last time she saw her.
“Inside she is still my baby,” Martin said as she held back tears. “I picture her the way she was when she left. That little face. That little girl.”
And now, after all this time, Martin can rest easy.
“I came to live with my mom for the rest of my life,” Delal said.
Martin’s other daughter Lamia, 22, did not make the trip but plans on coming soon.