Myrtle Beach man reunited with family on Greek TV show

As a young boy, Joey was living life in the Bronx care free with his big Italian family.
As a young boy, Joey was living life in the Bronx care free with his big Italian family.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There are certain times in our lives when things just seem to fall into place. No reason, no explanation. For Joey Nappi, his story of fate is spellbinding.

It's an answer that Joey Nappi has been longing for, "I just want to find out."

Little did he know, his quest to know more about his own past would lead to this moment. "Wow, this wasn't anything that I expected," Nappi expressed.

But before we can get to present day, we need to start where it all began. As a young boy, Joey was living life in the Bronx care free with his big Italian family.

"I mean if you look at TV shows like the Sopranos, loud screaming, big tables full of people every single Sunday. That's what it was. That's how I grew up," says Joey.

Then one day around the age of five, Joey's parents gave him the life changing news that he was adopted at three months old from Greece.

He grew up believing he was left in a basket on the steps of a church. An orphan left at the hands of Priests.

Joey goes on to explain, "There was no attempt [to reach my birth parents] because there was nothing I could do. I never had a name, never had anything. So I never had a second thought."

That is, until his father passed away in January of 2012.

Joey stumbled across the critical first piece to the puzzle he needed to track down who he is. There in front of his eyes were his adoption papers and his biological Mother's full name.

"It's a sad way that it happened because my pops had to die in order to find these papers but the really cool thing about this is they never got rid of the papers. They could have burned them and that way I never would have questioned it and never would have cared, but they always kept them," says Joey.

With both of his parents gone, Joey decided it was now or never. "So, I said 'I just gotta go'. I'm just going to go and travel to this island where I was born and check it out."

Weeks before leaving Myrtle Beach, he learned about Pame Paketo a mega-hit TV show in Greece that specializes in reuniting families. A producer responded to his email interested in his story, but warned they couldn't promise they would find anything or anyone.

While he anxiously waited for a response, Joey spent two weeks experiencing the beautiful sights of Greece: the beaches, the Parthenon, the Acropolis.

And then two days before he was to board a plane destined for home, his phone rang.

"And she says 'Ok Joey we need you to come to the taping of the TV show next week'. I'm like 'what? What are you talking about'?"

The moment he had been hoping for, praying for, was finally here.

During the taping of the show, Joey finds himself face to face with an old black and white photo. A woman and a small young girl smile back.

Joey recalls, "She told me that my mother died six years ago, my biological mother. And she said 'that's your sister Rita' [in the photo]. I was like 'Oh, all right that's pretty cool'. And she's like, 'And she's here today'."

As the wall separating the space between he and his sister slowly disappears, for the first time he could see and touch a face that looks just like his.

Joey whispers, "hello" as he embraces his sister for the first time. "See the smile. Same blue eyes."

Pame Paketo means "The Gift" in Greek. For Joey he says what they gave him was the best present he could ever dream of.

"I just think I'm a very lucky guy. Very, very lucky that this happened. People search their whole lives and have names and have all of this and never find anything," Joey states.

As his hours dwindled until his flight, Joey spent them surrounded by loved ones. He learned his sister Rita wasn't his only sibling. He was actually the youngest of eight children.

Joey just got back from his second trip to Greece in mid September and during his stay he was able to meet about 40 relatives, including his siblings.

For a man who went from having no immediate family, he's now trying to keep up with all the names. A problem, he's more than OK with having.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.