Share on Facebook  |  More Articles

Published Monday August 31st, 2009 at 12:45am

Original Article by Erica Pearson

Facebook brought them together!

A man had a joyful reunion on Sunday with the brother and sister he never knew - and says he owes it all to the social networking Web site.

Jonathan Frank, who was adopted as a baby, learned his siblings' names just last week.

After some savvy clicking on the Internet and a couple of phone calls, the three met for the first time.

"Facebook is amazing," said Frank, 38, of Bayonne, N.J., draping an arm around each new sibling. "I feel great - like I won the Mega Millions."

Over grilled steaks and homemade ziti, the three tried to catch up on the missed decades, sharing baby photos and stories.

"It's one of those miracle stories," said his newfound brother, John Martino, 34, a father of three who hosted the reunion in his Old Bridge, N.J., home.

"Now, it's catchup time," said sister Janine Martino, 36, who has two children. "I'm overwhelmed, excited."

Frank, a grocery store manager and dad of two daughters, has known since he was 5 years old that he was adopted.

His adoptive parents told him his biological mom's last name, Sideris, and explained that he was special, since they chose him to be a part of their family.

While Frank says he values their honesty and good hearts, he had a difficult childhood in Queens and the Bronx, and yearned to find his birth mother.

"I've had a void and hole in my heart," he said.

Frank made another attempt to find her last week, giving all of the information he had to a private investigator.

Four days later, he found out that he was three years too late to contact his biological mother, Nelley, who died of liver cancer in 2006.

The investigator told him that his birth mother was a teen when she had put him up for adoption, and later married a man named John Martino. They had two children named John and Janine, making them Frank's half-siblings.

Excitedly, Frank tried to call them, but the listed phone numbers didn't work.

His friend Orchid Cifre, 46, went on Facebook and decided to do some searching. She looked up the name John Martino. The 226 results didn't discourage her, and she started clicking around.

"At the top of the list was a good-looking Italian guy," Frank said.

Cifre clicked on John Martino's friends list, and found a Janine Martino. "So boom, she called me," Frank said.

Frank sent John Martino a Facebook message, titled "curious," telling him his story.

"I don't know if you are my brother or not, or if you are looking for me," he wrote. "But I have been waiting my whole life for this moment."

The response came an hour later.

"Call me," a shocked Martino wrote, giving his phone number.

His mother had never told him or his sister her secret, the electrician said.

"I was caught off guard," he said. "I thought it was a prank, somebody pulling my leg."

The Martinos' father later confirmed Frank's story. "My wife would have wanted this," said the father, John Martino, 55.The siblings are all Facebook friends now, of course.

As their kids played in the backyard, the parents laughed about the status updates they were posting about the reunion.

They also admired photos of their mother. Before her death, Nelley Martino had posted a message on looking for her son.

"I just wish that I could have held her once," Frank said, as all three siblings' matching brown eyes filled up with tears. "But I can hold my brother and sister."