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Another step in finding my father?

So my long protracted semi-attempt to work up the courage to find my father has moved on one more tiny little step step with a couple of nerve-wracking and unsettling conversations with (1) the Salvation Army and (2) Traceline. The Salvation Army conversation really freaked me out – they give you some kind of random caseworker, ask you questions about your relative and then tell you what they’ll do for you. Here’s the disturbing bit: if you decide to find the relative through them, there are almost no circumstances where they won’t give out your home address. I was really uncomfortable with this – I haven’t seen my father in thirty years and – from the impression I get of him – he wasn’t the most reliable and together of people in the early seventies. I have no idea whatsoever of what he’s like in person today but I’m pretty much certain that I don’t want him turning up on my doorstep out of the blue. Their service is free, but I can’t see any circumstance where I’ll be using it. I kept getting a feeling that there was some kind of near-cultish agenda or dogma in the work they do that’s more about them than it is about the people who go to them for help, and I came away from the phonecall shaken and feeling really exposed and weirded out.

Traceline seemed (on first impressions) to be a much more plausible option. You have to pay them for the trace, but it’s not an enormous amount of money, and they do it by checking GPs records. They’ll tell you if your relative is dead and – if you want to get in contact with them – you can get them to forward a letter to the person concerned. They’ll contact that person first to see if they want the letter. If not, no harm no foul. That seems like an entirely more controllable and less alarming way of going around the whole thing – if for no other reason that you could probably just put a work address in any eventual correspondence until you’d got more comfortable with the whole idea. The only thing that creeps me out about them is that although they said they were a government department, I can’t really find a presence for them online. This does not instill me with an enormous amount of faith…

The more I think about my father, the more convinced I am that the guy is dead. As I understand it from my mother (who to be honest I don’t think knew that much about his background) both of his parents died relatively young of cancer. He’d be 65 today and I can’t really believe that he wouldn’t have looked online and seen that I’m here and looking for him. If he is still alive, I guess his lack of response to everything I’ve done is a bit of a gentle kick in the netherparts, but it wouldn’t be too gutting. I’m just interested now in just getting some of the mystery out of the way. Is he alive? Is he dead? Does he at least know that I’m interested in meeting him (at least once, before one of us dies)? I don’t need – I don’t want – much more than that…

While I’m on the subject: wow does writing about it all in public make it easier to deal with. Starting a conversation with people about this stuff at work or with friends feels really weird and awkward and not particularly appealing. Who wants to spring that on someone in the middle of their day? Who wants to have to deal with people’s awkward reactions when you’re already feeling a bit random. Not me. But somehow putting it on the site keeps it at arms length. Making it public – but through the site – seems to ring-fence how awkward people can feel about the whole thing and limits how much they feel the need to be sympathetic or whatever. Realistically, sure it’s scary but who needs sympathy? What does it do but make you more aware of the stuff you’re trying to avoid thinking about? Yay weblogs. Yay websites. Life-saving little things. Very much approve.

Anyway, for anyone else in the same situation, here are the contact detail of the two organisations that I contacted today during my lunch break

  • Salvation Army support
    Fee for tracing someone £35
    Phone: 0845 6344747 mon-fri – 8.15-3.45pm
    www.look4them.org
  • Traceline
    Father needs to be named on Birth Certificate
    £30 required to make search. £25 to forward a letter.
    Phone: 0151 471 4811

30 replies on “Another step in finding my father?”

“He’d be 65 today and I can’t really believe that he wouldn’t have looked online and seen that I’m here and looking for him.”
I know people in their 20s who’ve never been online, so a 65 year old that’s not been online is very believable.
Good luck with your search.

Yeah except he worked for Honeywell computers in the 1970s when you had to check code on print outs as ones and zeros. Seems pretty likely that someone with that kind of background would have been online a couple of times at least and have done a vanity search for their own name (which we share).

In the past week I did a search for my Dad’s name and found a picture on Google Images of him in one of his rally cars from 1978 (he was pretty successful at the whole racing thing in the late ’70s, early ’80s). I forwarded it to him and he asked if I realised it was of his car. I explained that’s why I sent it (duh) and he asked how I found it. I explained I just typed in his name to Google, and I found stuff about him (from 27 years ago, as it happened).
I get the impression that he never even considered that someone may have been bothering to write about him, or pull photos out of archives, and stick it online…
Hope you come to a satisfying conclusing to tracing your Dad.

This is going to sound like sympathy, but I guess that I don’t really have that much that is valuable to add in the way of advice, so I’ll have to just add my support as you ponder what must be a very difficult question. Some of the things you have written have helped me make decisions (like not to do a PhD!), and I don’t feel at all qualified to return the favour.
I completely understand your hesitancy, butI hope that you find what you’re looking for soon.

Could it be possible that if he searched his name in Google and found sites mentioning you, it didn’t occur to him that you could be his son? And that he didn’t go through your archives (which I don’t do too much even with my favorite blogs) to read about your search for him? You don’t mention looking for him in your biography, so I don’t think that jumps out too much at a quick skim of your site… Also, has your site and the mentions of you at other sites always been at the top search results (even at AltaVista or Magellan or InfoSeek before Google took over?), cause he could have done his vanity check years ago and not bothered much since.

I guess anything’s possible. I don’t know what I think about those options though. I suppose there are a fair number of Tom Coates’ in the world – otherwise it wouldn’t have proven so bloody tricky finding my dad. So it’s quite conceivable that he might not have thought of me doing any of the things under my name online. Certainly it’s been hard to avoid me online for the last five or six years, but I don’t know about before that.
I can’t help thinking that it would have been kind of dumb of him though. I mean – assuming that he’s alive and not in a hospital ward or unemployed or destitute or homeless or something (all of which are plausible, I’ll accept) then his background really would lead me to think that he’d be in some way connected to the internet in some fashion. It just seems weird that he wouldn’t be. And I can’t imagine not being at all curious about your son and not thinking of looking for him online.
Having said that I’ve just done a search for “Thomas Coates” and “Thomas Edward Coates” which is how I was referred to last time he would have looked for me, and I’m nowhere in those search results. It’s possible he’s just been looking in the wrong place.

i am trying to find my sisters fathert shes now 23 and lost contact when she was arount 4 where di start please can anyone help me

trying to find my father but as no name on birth certificate who will help. not salvation army.havent seen him in 42 years

When my mother’s i was born jan 15 1977 and I need to know where is really my father name ? My mother of maid of Trent .
Please help me . My name is Toby Allen Trent when My mom married to my Father name is Micheal R, Gadzinski . I don’t know ?
Thank you Toby

Im trying to find my biological father. His name is Gilbert Garcia. He doesnt know I am his daughter. I think he was serviced in Fort Hood. It had to be in 1971. because i was born in March 1972. My mom said she met him in Houston, but my aunt said it was Dallas so i dont know. Please help

trying to find my father.i dont think he know who i am my mum is knone as ron or rony . we lived in watchfield near swindon.

am trying to trace my half-sister Susan Oats, who married Michael Thomas Harris in 1969 – can anyone help?

I,m helping my partner trace his father, Alan Cowan. He was last known in the area of forfar, dundee, but originally came from edinburgh. He would be aged around 50-54 years, and was married in glams parish church on 19th aug 1975. I would be grateful for any information to help with our search.

I would like to know my father. I don’t have a name for him(he may not be alive anymore) I live in Ellesmere Port and was born in 1973. My mum is called Doreen. If there is anyone with imformation please get in touch.

I know how it feels not knowing your real father as I’m in the same boat as you. So all the best for your search for him.

for the past 40yrs i’ve wondered where my did is & does he think of me.if anyone knows William Leslie Robson(known as Les}pls tell me.

Plz could u help me find my dad his name is neil murnane was iving in sw8 area landsdown road he would be about 46 /48 now he had a friend called nicky spooner whomis my uncle.

please help me find my real father I’m 26 years old and my mother has been died for 16 years and my father just past away two years ago,and the truth came out when my dad past away,and none of aunts can’t remember his name they just saw him once help if I can he have two granddaugthers

HI :>
My name is Jennifer I too am looking for my father I am 30 years old and I know nothing about the man other then he is a sperm donor as far as my mother is concerend I have a huge problem though I reall want to find my father, I am a single mother of three two I have custody of and the third livies with her father, A man who took care of his how rare…. we’ll any way the point I was getting at was I am BROKE I can’t afford toothpaste let alone the stupidly high fees that everyone charges, yes 29.90$ is tooooo expensive for me if any one has any clues on what way I could go please let me know I have tried 40 web sites with no luck any way his name is Dennis Mark Kendrick, born 1955

Hi can anybody help, I am trying to trace my father, I would dearly love to meet him his name is Billy wilson and he worked in the Liverpool area in 1962, I don’t have much info on him apart from that he was from the glasgow area and he worked at Cammell Lairds shipyard in Birkenhead at that time. he would have been in his early 20s then and he would be about 66 give or take a couple of years either side. His name isn’t on my birth certificate and the small amount of info I have is from my mum. I would love to meet him so if anyone can help or point me in the right direction with such a small amount of information I would be really gratefull. Many Thanks John

Hi everyone,
Today I spoke to my father for the 1st time in my life. I am 50 years old. Until last year I didn’t even know his name (as my mom had lied to me about the entire situtation until then).
I think that finally knowing more about what happened is really going to fill the big hole I have had my entire life. I am really happy, stunned, a wreck, and surprised. Not everything he had to say was good. But it is information and part of my life. I want to know these things because maybe I will understand myself better. I grew up as an only child. I now have 4 brothers and sisters. Wow!
I think people should try to figure out the “truth” about their birth parents. Whether it is good or bad, at least they know.
Not knowing or having wrong information for 49 years has definitely had a negative impact on me.
good luck to everyone out there.
I used intelius and paid $17 to find him (once I had his name it was easy).

I am a 37yo woman who has suddenly been thrown in to a search for her biological father. Two years ago I posted on ancestry.com hoping to hear back from any siblings I may have out there in the world. I did this at a time in my life when I was feeling very lost, having just ended a very serious relationship in a very painful way. I have never known my father, never seen a photo, and do not know if he is still living. This past Thursday I received an email from a woman who says the information I posted sounded exactly like that of her father. We began to email one another, send photos, and yesterday we spoke by phone, all this in a matter of a few days. Last night I got the courage up to let my mom know, and it broke her heart. I had always known it was a painful topic for her, but it has always been a void in my life. This void has caused me so many problems, especially in relationships with men. I feel terrible at how my mom reacted, but I also feel this is something I need to do in order to move on with my own life. I know many of us out there are in painful situations within our own families that prevent us, or deter us from our search. But we need to be strong and do what is best for us. If we ignore that part of us that is lost and confused, we will remain so all our lives.

Hello im writing this for my dad, hes name is john lucas moore,he was from nc, later on moved to maryland to stay for awhile,okay he met this lady from cambrigde maryland,he said she was lightskin,bigbone,at the time she was involve with a man but my dad and her was messing around to,then she realized she was pregnant and it was my dads, but the man she was with thought it was hes to and she was going to tell him that it was hes,but it was my dads,she had the baby,the baby was lightskin,bigeyes,and bow-legged,a long stoty short im trying to find my brother my dad is about 65yrs old now, and my brother should be in his late 30’s early 40’s i think.The only thing that i know is my dad said she was going to college for computer, if this sounds comparible or if you ave any questions, you think you might be him, please contact me @candis_moore2003@yahoo.com or call 2529911956 ps
I hope your looking for him beacause im looking for you

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