Southwest Florida man reunites with his son after 22 years
11:40 PM, Jun 18, 2017
8:56 AM, Jun 19, 2017
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Southwest Florida man says it's a Father's Day gift he never thought he'd receive. After 22 years of searching for his son Paul, Jonathan Jones recently found him on Facebook.
The pair now plans to reunite in person beginning of July.
"I have tears of joy, you know, because I never thought I'd find him, you know after 22 years I was just ready to give up," said Jones.
The last time Jones saw his son was in 1995 while dropping the 6-year-old off at his mom's New Jersey home.
"I said 'I will be back next Friday to pick him up.' When I got there that following Friday they were gone, curtains were gone, the house was totally empty," said Jones.
Jones said Paul's mom legally changed her last name and their son's last name, making it nearly impossible to find them.
"Fathers have more rights today than they did 22 years ago. They said there's nothing really I could do because he was with his mother," said Jones.
Last Thursday, just a few days before Father's Day Jones' wife decided to do a reverse White Pages search, something the couple said they had done countless times before. However, this time Jones' wife was able to find a name she then searched on Facebook. From there she looked at the woman's friend list and was able to find her husband's son Paul.
"'How's he going to respond to me?' I had all these fears in me," said Jones.
Jones said he sent the first message on Facebook and after hearing back sent another message.
"I said that I was his father and then I didn't hear nothing," said Jones.
But 10 minutes later Paul replied. Paul said the delay in responding was because he was trying to wrap his mind around hearing from someone he'd been looking for the past 10 years.
Since reconnecting Jones found out he's a grandpa. Paul learned he's a big brother. The two said every time they talk the tears continue to flow.
"This is like the best Father's Day gift I could ever have," said Jones.
Jones, his wife and daughter plan to drive to North Carolina to visit Paul and his family beginning of July. The family plans to meet for the first time at Paul's church.
Paul said his last memory of his dad was receiving a yellow Tonka trunk from him. However his dad wouldn't let him take it to his mom's house instead promising him he could play with it when he went back to his dad's. That day never happened. Jones said he plans to fulfill his promise and bring him a new yellow Tonka trunk when they reunite.
Through the tears, Jones said he has a message for other dad's this Father's Day.
"If you are looking for somebody, never give up, keep praying to God and eventually when the time is right they will be brought back into your life," said Jones.