Tampa mother's worldwide search for daughter comes to an end - WNCN: News, Weather

Tampa mother's worldwide search for daughter comes to an end

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A mother's worldwide search for her two daughters has finally come to a very happy end this holiday weekend.

Lilly Martin, who says her husband took their two girls to the Middle East decades ago, is finally back with both of them.

"Patience for me....it's the same {as} love. It's the same {as} faith because love gives you patience," Martin said at Tampa International Airport. "Love gives you the faith. Love gives you the hope."

Martin is Catholic with Colombian heritage. Her ex-husband is from the Middle East, Islamic in faith and wanted their girls, Dalal and Lamia to grow up with his beliefs.

"He bought 3 one-way tickets to Syria," Martin said. "Every time I tried to call to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia … they always hung up on me. Getting communication with the Islamic countries is so difficult."

Eventually Dalal found Lilly on Facebook. She's 25 now. Lamia is 22.

The girls would secretly chat with their mother when they could. Last month, Dalal returned to Tampa, where she plans to stay.

"I'm feeling so good. I'm feeling freedom. I'm so happy because I'm beside my mom," she said Friday morning. "I want to be beside her all my life."

Dalal wants to go to school. She wants to buy a house big enough for the entire family.

The entire family.                 

Until this week, Lamia was the missing piece. She's pregnant and it took some time to make the arrangements, but early Friday morning, she hugged her mom for the first time in 21 years.

"Finally I found my mom," she said after a long, tearful embrace.

Lamia plans to have the baby girl here in the U.S., alongside her mother.

"To feel her happiness...all of her happiness," she said.

See the emotional story Friday at 11:00 on News Channel 8.


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