By EMILIO LANERA
A trip to Israel has introduced a Melbourne woman to her father for the first time.
Noah Willoughby, 21, said her father abandoned her mother before she was born.
“When he found out my mum was pregnant he freaked out and didn't even tell her he was moving back to Israel,” she said.
“His absence has been a big thing for my mum and for me.”
Ms Willoughby first reached out to her father when she was nine years old and had planned to meet him in Paris.
“I was going to meet him for my 10th birthday ... but the day before my birthday he called up and said he actually couldn't make it,” Ms Willoughby said.
Since first reaching out to her father, she has had very little contact with him.
It was not until a few years ago when Ms Willoughby's father sent her a Facebook message that the two started to develop a relationship.
“It was for my birthday he just said Happy Birthday and that we should meet ... which just threw me off guard completely,” she said.
Her father also sent her a painting and a message saying he wanted to build a relationship.
Ms Willoboughy said when she received this painting (above) and letter (below) from her father a few years ago she was not ready to meet Photo:Emilio Lanera
Talking over FaceBook for the last three years, Ms Willoughby finally decided to fly over to Israel, this year in July.
“I also planned a trip to go to Egypt ... I didn't want to make it all about meeting him. \I didn't want to be disappointed,” she said.
Her father picked her up from Tel Aviv airport at midnight.
“When I walked out I saw him and I was waiting for him to notice me and it was super surreal,” she said.
While in Israel Ms Willoughby also met her step-brother.
Although she knew she had a stepbrother, she said she was not expecting to meet him.
“It was just one day I was in the car with my dad coming back from breakfast and he was like so I think it's time for you to meet my wife and kid,” she said.
“I was like, ‘thanks for the notice like this is a big thing for me as well and for my brother’.”
Ms Willoughby said she is still trying to forgive her father for abandoning her and her mum, but she does feel more connected to him.
At the end of this year she will graduate from her Psychology degree at Deakin.
Next year she plans to move to Israel.
“If I have the money I would like to live there for a couple of years … so I can get in touch with my roots and find out about more about myself and my family,” she said.