One of the hardest and most emotional requests that we receive are from men and women who are looking for absentee fathers and have spent hundred if not thousands of hours checking online databases and telephone numbers they find for people with matching names. One of our recently reunited clients spent two years calling everyone nationwide with her biological father's name.
Most of you also have only a name to go on, and if that name is common, it's going to be almost impossible for you to find your father unless you gather more information or are extraordinarily lucky. If this is your current situation there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of a successful search.
The only online registry that has non-adoption entries is ReunionRegistry.org . We recommend checking to see if someone is looking for you.
Talking about your father may be a very touchy discussion with your mother if she is still living, BUT it is something that you have to do. Only your parents know what their relationship was like and what actually happened when you were conceived. If your mother is deceased, then you are going to have to talk to people who knew your mom at the time of your birth. This would be family members, your mom's oldest friend, co-workers or old classmates.
Remember that 5 question process you learned in school on how to research and write a good story? Who, What, Where, When and Why? The same procedure also applies when you sit down and start interviewing friends and family.
If you are not sure what to ask, here are a list of some of our favorite questions:
Do you know the full name including middle initial of my father?
Do you happen to remember his date of birth? If you don't remember the exact date, do you remember which season his birthday fell in, or which holiday it was closest to? If an exact date of birth is not known, see if you can get an approximate age that he would be TODAY. Your mom may remember that he was 3 years older than she even if she does not remember his birthday.
What was the last known location of my father? (City, State) Ask if they happen to remember what the last known address was. Then ask WHEN. If you can narrow down a month and a year there are resources you can access to help you or your investigator.
Did my father attend school? What High School did he go to? What college. When did he graduate? If you parents went to school together, ask for names of your father's best friends. Was he active in any clubs or organizations in school?
Was he ever married before? If so, see if they know the ex-wife's name and/or if there were other children born before you.
Do you remember 'any' of my father's relative's names? Mother, father or siblings? If she does, ask for their names and occupations if known.
Was my father in the military? If yes, then ask what branch of the military and what bases they were stationed at. Ask for rank, assignment, and the timeframe they were on active duty.
Did my father have a driver's license? If so, in which state was it issued? Do you happen to know his military ID number or Social Security number?
Did my father have a criminal record? If so, in which state, and was it a minor infraction or a felony?
Did my father have any type of professional license. (Doctor, Teacher, Nurse, Engineer, etc.)
Each situation is different for everyone who faces trying to find their father. Not 'all' of the questions above may apply to your own situation, but there may be other questions not listed that will get you much closer to your goal.
The second largest group of people who write in for advice in searching for their father have no clue who they are looking for. Many of you have a mother who 'will not' discuss anything to do with your father or their relationship, and will not even give you a 'name' to go on in your search. Unfortunately if your father was not named on your birth certificate, and if your mother won't or cannot tell you who your father was, you are going to have to turn to other family members to discover the truth, and they may not know.
As an investigator, I have spoken to several hundred women who were either so wounded or so angry at the man who fathered their children that it's a chapter of their life they do not want to revisit. Many young women in the past decades were told, "That's not my baby!" and you can't prove it. With today's advances in DNA testing, yes, we CAN prove it but we have to find the father first.
There is a second group of single mothers who, unfortunately, have no idea who is actually their child's father. If this is the case in your family, your mother may be so embarrassed by the fact that she doesn't want to discuss it all. Your mom may have, at some time in the past, thought with her heart and not with her head and entered a brief relationship with a very friendly stranger. Were she to explain to you what happened now, she might feel that you would either think less of her or that she would hurt your current relationship. There may also be a chance that your mom was involved with more than one gentleman around the time of your conception and isn't sure which of them are your biological father. The solution to this is to find them both if you can get their names and info from your mother.
In closing, you have a difficult task ahead of you to discover your answers, but never forget that the more you know about who you are looking for, the more able an investigator will be to be successful in finding your father.
Good Luck in your Quest!
Susan E. Friel-Williams
CEO, Case Manager and Licensed Investigator
Search Quest America