Son tracks down long-lost father on web

A FATHER from Ipswich today told of the life-changing moment he was tracked down in virtual reality by his long-lost son.

Simon Tomlinson

A FATHER from Ipswich today told of the life-changing moment he was tracked down in virtual reality by his long-lost son.

Tony Goulbourne, of Gippeswyk Road, had not heard from his first-born child since the youngster was adopted and moved to America more than 20 years ago.

But that was all to change when his son, Leon Bailey, contacted him on social networking site MySpace and gave him an even bigger surprise by telling him he was a grandfather.

Mr Goulbourne, 44, who had posted photos of Mr Bailey as a toddler on the site, told of the “eerie” feeling he had when he first spoke to the 27-year-old on the telephone.

He said: “I could hear a man on the other end of the phone and I am meant to call him son. I burst out laughing when he said I was a grandfather.

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“My brother is a grandfather and I am always taking the mick out of him. Now I'm a grandfather!”

Mr Goulbourne and Mr Bailey's mother, Debra Kneuman, were living in Ipswich when he was born in 1982.

Ms Kneuman struggled to live on her own and Mr Bailey was adopted by an American couple stationed at what was then Bentwaters Airbase.

Mr Goulbourne then lost contact with Ms Kneuman, 41, and she also moved to America.

Mr Bailey had spent most of his adult life unsuccessfully trying to find his mother until a brainwave came across him one day while watching television.

He typed her name into MySpace and found her immediately. Ms Kneuman then found his father on the site.

Mr Goulbourne said: “I had a son out there and as I got older I thought about him more and more. I hadn't forgotten him.”

He has five other children aged between 12 months and 19 years and said they were really excited about meeting the new members of the family.

Ms Kneuman, who now lives in New Hampshire, said she has also re-established contact with her Ipswich-based family after falling out with them 14 years ago.

She plans to visit Mr Bailey at his home in Texas and come to England with for a family reunion.

Ms Kneuman, who has four other children, said: “I can't wait to see Leon. I regret the adoption but I didn't have the best life at the time.”

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