Tampa Bay mother reunites with daughter after decades apart - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Bay mother reunites with daughter after decades apart

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A reunion decades in the making happened just after midnight Wednesday at Tampa International Airport. Lilly Martin held her daughter named Dalal Waked for the first time in nearly 21 years.

Martin says her husband took her girls, Dalal and Lamia Waked, decades ago. Dalal was 3. Lamia was an infant.

Martin is Catholic with Colombian heritage. Her husband is from the Middle East, Islamic in faith and wanted the girls 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." 

Days turned in to months. Months turned in to years. Years turned in to decades.

"It was like a whole in my heart, you know … like a space," she said Tuesday.

Eventually Dalal found Lilly on Facebook. She and Lamia would secretly chat with their mother when they could.

"I'm still in shock. I still feel like I'm walking in the clouds," said Lilly Martin.

On Wednesday morning, the years and distance slowly dwindled as the two embraced for the first time.

"Inside me, she's still my baby. I just picture her like that. The time she left, how she looked," said Lilly Martin.

Dalal is now 25. Lamia is 22. She plans on visiting soon.

"I'm happy. What can I say more? I'm happy. Of course I'm with my mom now," said Dalal Waked.

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