Facebook group reunites families separated by adoption: ‘We’re doing people puzzles’

One Facebook group is showing the true power of social media by helping people find the missing pieces of their lives.

A group named Search Squad uses old-fashioned snooping skills and connections on the social media app Facebook to help reunite family members around the world who have been separated by either adoption or other factors.

The group, which is volunteer-based and who call themselves 'Search Angels', say that everything they do is free of charge. To date, the group has helped thousands of people learn more about who they are, where they came from and — perhaps most importantly — complete their forever families.

“I had no idea when we made the group that it was going to be such a need out there," Bonnie Holley, the group's founder, told NBC correspondent Kaylee Hartung.

For nearly 10 years, volunteers like Holley have been using their social media sleuthing skills to find lost family members, solving upwards of 100 cases a month.

"We do what we do because it’s a passion and because we love people," Kathey Williams, a member of the Search Squad group, told Hartung. "But we also have that side of us that we just love a good puzzle. You know, we don’t go to the store and buy crossword puzzles.

"We’re doing people puzzles," she added.

When asked how she feels when she solves a "people puzzle," Williams said it's "the most rewarding experience."

Nadine Cardinale is one of those people puzzles that brought Williams and the other 'Search Angels' a feeling of purpose.

When asked what she wanted for Mother's Day, Cardinale told her husband: "I just want to know who my dad is."

Raised by her birth mother, Cardinale has been longing to know her father for most of her life. After suffering a heart attack in her 40s, she decided to turn to the Search Squad for help.

Days later, the Search Sqad connected Cardinale to her father, Walt Pontious.

"Soon as he said he wanted to meet, I think I flew down my basement stairs and told my husband: 'Oh my God he wants to meet!’" Cardinale told NBC News. "I was super excited.”

Pontious, Cardinale's father, told Hartung the moment he reconnected with his daughter felt like "when you go home from the hospital with with a little kid in your arms and your life has changed."

While the two connected instantly, Cardinale wanted to be certain Pontious was her father so she asked him to take a DNA test.

The results were a near-perfect match: 99.9%.

Debb Partridge, the 'Search Angel' who helped Cardinale find her father, says that every time she sees a photo of the two her "heart just smiles."

"It’s just so rewarding," Partridge said.

Members of the Search Squad said that, of course, not every case has a happy ending, but the ones that do are extremely rewarding and help put some much-needed positivity back into the world.

Today, Cardinale and Pontious continue to grow closer.

"You went looking for health information. How much more did you get out of this process?" NBC's Hartung asked Cardinale.

"I got a lifetime of love from my dad," Cardinale said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com