EXCLUSIVE: Family torn apart by war, heartbreak decades ago becomes one
After helping a Yorktown veteran set up a meeting with his first love after decades of being apart, News 12’s Tara Rosenblum and Scott McGee have gone a step further by reuniting another member of their family.
John Bartalotta went on Facebook on Dec. 8 to look for the woman he dated for more than a year when they lived on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx in the mid-1960s. Bartalotta was drafted and sent to Vietnam in February 1966, and when he got back in 1968, his first love, Christine Delise, had moved away.
Delise moved to Florida and got married. Bartalotta later got married, moved to Westchester and started a family.
After Bartalotta connected with Delise on Facebook, they began having long phone calls, which turned into Facetime video chats and eventually a meeting at the Westchester County Airport.
The couple also set out to find the child that they gave up for adoption. The child was born in January 1966, three weeks before her 19-year-old father left for the Marines.
"My father wouldn't let me take her home. In the '60's you didn't do that,” said Delise, who was 18 at the time.
News 12’s Tara Rosenblum contacted a private investigator, who agreed to take on their case to try and find their daughter Donna Marie. The couple also put themselves on DNA searches and put out a newspaper ad.
However, Donna Marie and her husband turned to News 12 on Facebook after seeing the story – on the same day her biological parents got engaged.
News 12 hatched a plan for Donna Marie, her husband and children to fly to Westchester from Florida for a surprise reunion four days later.
As the unsuspecting Delise and Bartalotta were busy decorating their new love nest in Wappingers Falls, Donna Marie, her husband and children headed to La Boca Restaurant in White Plains to surprise them.
The meeting was joyous for all parties involved – Delise said it was like hitting the lottery. What Delise had also hoped for was forgiveness from Donna Marie.
“When you give up a baby for adoption, that's the selfless thing you can do as a mother,” said Donna Marie.
Delise and Bartalotta plan to marry on Dec. 8 – the same day he went to find her online.
Donna Marie plans to be in the wedding party – and News 12 was invited to the festivities as well.