A young woman was reunited with her father via Facebook after losing contact five years ago when their family broke up.
Marissa Tukuafu, 24, was a ‘huge daddy’s girl’ who grew up with her parents and three siblings in Mount Druitt, west Sydney.
They lived close to her paternal relatives who cultivated the children’s bond with their Tongan roots.
“When my father went to the toilet, I would sit at the door,” Ms. Tukuafu told Daily Mail Australia.
Marissa Tukuafu (photo), 24, lost touch with her father in 2015 when her parents, who had divorced years earlier, argued again
Ms. Tukuafu reunited with her father (photo) at his Dean Park home last month after not seeing each other for five years
Ms. Tukuafu moved back to Sydney from Nowra last year, where she moved in 2008 following her parents’ divorce
“I always wanted to be around him.”
But just before Mrs. Tukuafu’s 12th birthday, in 2008, the lifestyle that the four children had always known was shattered when their parents divorced.
Mrs. Tukuafu and her sister Elisapesi, 22, and brothers Siaosi, 20, Samiu, 18, moved with their mother 165 km south to Nowra.
As the break-up continued to sour, contact between her parents stopped.
Subsequently, the number of visits between the children and their father Siliza Tukuafu, 52, decreased to about once a year.
“We spoke on the phone,” said Mrs. Tukuafu.
“I’d always ask if we could see him, but my parents’ work schedules were never aligned.”
Over time, the broken parties began to feel that the other did not want to be reached.
Ms. Tukuafu, the eldest of four children, said she was a “daddy’s girl growing up in Mount Druitt, Sydney
Mrs. Tukuafu was told by her mother that she would be following her father (pictured together) around the house
A huge fight between the former husbands when Mrs. Tukuafu was 18 years old would completely break the children’s contact with their father.
“They were in constant trouble and I think that just cut us off,” she said.
“He was remarried and we had the impression that he didn’t want to see us, and he thought we didn’t want to see him.”
“Then our parents had a huge argument that he changed numbers. We still don’t really know what happened.
“After that I haven’t seen or heard him for years and I couldn’t figure out how to find him because he didn’t have social media. ‘
Although the years passed, Mr. Tukuafu was never far from his children’s thoughts.
Then Tukuafu came across her long-lost father with a stroke of luck on Facebook.
“He came to us as a suggested friend, and I thought he certainly wasn’t?” she said.
“I clicked on his page and then saw his pictures and immediately called my siblings and told them ‘you will never want to believe who I just found’.
Ms. Tukuafu photographed with her father Siliza, 52, during a visit when she was 16. It was one of the last times she would see them before their five-year divorce
Mrs. Tukuafu and her siblings immediately sent him a message.
“He was shocked that we tried to contact him because he had the impression we didn’t want to see him, but he was so happy to hear from us.”
“We sent him updated photos of our kids and started updating him about everything.”
“Finally I asked if he wanted to meet and he said ‘of course! “.”
Ms. Tukuafu, who returned to Sydney last year, agreed to meet him at his Dean Park home on June 27.
The whole car was driving there, her nerves trembling uncontrollably.
But after getting out of the vehicle, her fear of “what to say” and “if he really wanted to see her” was immediately quashed.
As if no time had passed, they rushed to hug each other, eyes full of tears.
“It was extremely emotional that I had to hold back tears,” she said.
“I also saw my father trying not to cry.
“We stood there and hugged for a few minutes and just didn’t say anything.”
Mrs. Tukuafu was introduced and introduced to her stepmother and stepsister.
She was also met by other family members whom she had not seen for years.
“One of my uncles was praying. He told me “you’ve never been far from our thoughts, and came and gave me a hug. My grandmother was there too. ‘
Mrs. Tufuaku and her father sat together for hours to catch up before she reconnected with her other loved ones.
Since the meeting, the couple exchange messages every few days and plan a time for her siblings to visit him as soon as the coronavirus outbreak cools.
A TikTok story documenting the journey to revive their relationship has gone viral and has garnered over 5,000 responses.
Ms. Tufuaku is delighted to finally reconnect with her father and learn about her Tongan heritage again
Aside from the loss of her father, Ms. Tufuaku has also reunited with the cultural connections left behind as a result of her parents’ divorce.
Paternal Half Tongan, with Italian and German maternal ancestry, said Mrs. Tufuaku that she missed the opportunity to learn more about her paternal culture.
Since she was at home with her family, she said she was taken straight to her childhood.
“I’m very proud of where I come from, so it was hard not to have a connection with it.
“Since we left I have had to learn it from the internet or my friends.
“As soon as I sat down and everyone saw the smell of the food – it felt like it was yesterday.”
“To be reconnected and learn it firsthand was just incredible.”