"My name is Tom and I might be your son"

A little over a month ago I got a letter from Traceline saying that they thought they’d found my father. At the time I was in San Francisco attending a one-day workshop presented by Cal about Flickr and running around like a mad thing between conferences, parties and lots of neat companies . I managed to bury the whole family drama in the back of my mind at the time. I had too much else to do.

Unfortunately, the pace hasn’t let up one bit since I got back to the UK. I’ve spent much of my time writing up my Supernova notes, working on strategic stuff at the BBC and launching the Listen Live widget. And around me the world has gone nuts – first London won the Olympic bid, then we all stood firm against terrorists, bore silent tribute to the victims of the first attacks and then – before the dust had cleared – found ourselves in the middle of another bout of terrorism. My brother came for the weekend, Open Tech happened all over the place, Matt Biddulph announced he was leaving the BBC and Odeo launched. And there was Live8, of course. And I turned 33

All in all, it’s been a bloody hard and tiring month, and the backlog of important things that I really want to do has got larger and larger. And at the top of that pile has been the most nerve-wracking project of all – finding my father – and the next step in that project: writing a letter to him to try and persuade him to re-establish contact after nearly thirty years.

Throughout the rest of this process with Traceline, I’ve been publishing regular updates to the web for everyone to read. By putting it all in public I’ve been able to keep some of the emotional aspects of the whole enterprise at arms length and to look at it slightly more dispassionately. It’s also somehow given me the nerve to continue – feeling that other people are somehow rooting for me and deriving value from this experience (one way or another) has been, I think, profoundly helpful.

But writing this letter has been harder than I expected. It’s taken me all morning, wrangling with words, trying to get something assembled that is open and honest without being too scary or intimidating. I’ve been trying to find the right set of words that suggests how easy the next stage should be, while recognising how profoundly impactful it might seem. I’ve tried to communicate how deeply I feel the need to keep going, to find my father, without making him feel that need directly as a burden.

It’s been a bloody hard few hours and the result is an unusually bald piece of writing for me. It’s not got much of my normal ornamental style, it’s almost completely lacking in curlicues. Too keep it real, I’ve had to strip all that stuff away, get rid of the posing and camoflage and just say what’s going on in my head. As a result, I think it would be too difficult for me to the letter out in public. So I’m not going to. I’ve reread it a number of times, I’ve sent it to some close friends for their comments and thoughts. And now I’m going to sit on it for a couple of days. If it still feels right on Monday morning, then it’s in the post. And then God only knows what happens next…

29 replies on “"My name is Tom and I might be your son"”

I haven’t had contact with my biological father since I was 11, and reading your story about finding yours has helped me deal with emotions that I have kept buried for over half my life.
Regardless of the outcome, know that you’ve done a good, brave thing.

I’m rooting for you – more for ‘closure’ that a positive conclusion. It was important to my mother in law to find both her birth mother and father. I understand why you’re posting now, and I think the reasons you have are good ones. Thoughts with you.

I found my biological father after 25 years of searching. He answered the phone and I asked a few questions about my birth and where he was stationed (Army) when I was born. He right away acknowledged that I was his daughter. As a matter of fact, he got excited and I heard him scream to his wife “Its my baby from Germany on the phone.” He left my mother after I was born when he was stationed back to the United States from Germany. Even though my mother wanted nothing to do with him and clearly let me know that there were NO blessings on her part if I tried to find him. I however did not feel the same. There was a missing peace of my soul and a story to be told and I wanted to know who my biological father was. Now that I have found him, I plan to have a reunion with him, my four brothers and his wife (Who knew about me) sometime in August. Our conversations are usually quick and sometimes I am without words to say. It doesnt really matter to me why he left my mother and me because I cannot change the past. Things happen for a reason and throughout my life, I have been blessed with a wonderful stepfather who did give me his blessing in finding my biological father. My biological father is now 70 so I have this compassion for this man who at least acknowledged me when I found him. You have to decided what is truly in your heart before you start searching for your biological parent. For me, finding my biological father put a closure to that urge to know who I am. I still have not seen a photo of my biological father because he is not into the internet, scanners and photography but he promisses to send me a photo of him soon. For now, I take one day at a time and with each conversations comes a closness to my father. It is a great joy when you finally do find your biological parent and they say “yes, you are my baby girl.” Wow, talk about wanting to exhale………Good luck to all of you…

Hi Tom,
I totally empathize with your situation. I’m 37 years old and my parents were recently divorced in the last few years. A few years before their divorce it was confirmed that the man I grew up with was not my biological father (which was somewhat of a relief to me because we didn’t get along very well).
My wife and I were going through some tough financial times and decided to pool resources with my mother after her divorce and we all moved to another state together.
Since the move, I’ve been getting all kinds of signals from various sources as to the identity of my biological father. It’s a great mystery because my mother refuses to give me information that makes any sense whatsoever. However, a few reliable sources have led me to believe that my father is a well known celebrity.
Of course, I was thrilled. I found that we have a lot in common. He’s been in the music business for several decades and I’m a budding music producer. The problem is that he’s even more tight lipped about the situation than my mother. I can understand why, but I really wish he would find a way to communicate with me directly. (Understand he’s been playing ’round about with me though many different pawns, maybe because he really is interested in me).
Let me catch you up. I’ve been writing letters to him for the past couple of years and I started receiving a lot of strange mail shortly after I started my quest. In the beginning I went to see him in person at a public event and greeted him, but I didn’t reveal who I was. My wife and I wanted to see if there was any strange reaction without me saying anything and to our surprise there was. I did tell him my first name and he looked like he had seen a ghost. Jay is short for a more distinguised name, but I’ll be discreet about that for the sake of his and my privacy.
About a year after the strange letters (not from him directly) and strange phone calls (I get a lot of them too) I finally decided to confront him directly. Arrangements were made for me to see him at another public event, however, I was a little reluctant because I wanted to speak to him in private. He saved the day (I guess) because when it came time for us to meet, he and his wife left the scene by the time me and my wife had been escorted to the rendezvous point.
Subsequently, I thought maybe he would try to contact me so we could talk in a more private setting. After a few weeks with no word, my wife and I went to one of his homes in the same state where we reside and were greeted by one of his front people. They treated us with respect, but still no luck in meeting with my father. I told his staff person that he (my father) was privy to the nature of my visit and I was expecting him to call me sometime soon.
I guess he got the message, because a couple of weeks later he called my cell phone from a blocked number and proceeded to repremand me (like a father would) for insisting that he call me. He denied being my father, but I didn’t buy it because he simply (in a kind way) could have said that from the beginning. That call was about 5 months ago. I still get the strange calls and letters that are leading up to another rendezvous. I’m patient.
I’m just telling all of this to let you know that you are not in the struggle alone.
My dad’s getting ready for a big celebration tour in Europe. Maybe he’ll feel more comfortable talking to me outside of the U.S.
Maybe I’ll get a chance to visit the UK sometime in the near future.
Best wishes,
Jay Robinson

I just turned 40 a month ago, my Mother died 8 years ago and before she left she finally told me the truth about who my real father was.
I found him tonight serching via internet.
Now what do I do?
Do I request a DNA test to set my mind at ease?
I am so scared, he is married to a woman that he was married to when he and my mother had an affair.
Any advise?

I am 22 and I just found my mother- I didn’t know but- my father kid-napped me when I was 19 months old and I never saw my mother again. I found her and spoke to my grandmother for the first time last night- I am supposed to call my mother for the 1st time in about 5 min. She is very ill and in the hospital in another state (I am in the US) and I don’t know what to say to her- I always thought she left me – but she has been searching for me all of this time- I am so angry with my dad- and I can’t get over anything right now- every detail is heartwrenching. I was a little girl with out a mom- for no reason.
I’m so confused and I just need some advise.

I have never met my real dad. I am 25 years old now, but when I was eleven my aunt accidentally told me(sure) that my dad wasn’t my real dad. I was caught off guard, and my life was completely changed. The dad I have today is my true dad.He has raised me from a baby. He has made me the person I am today. The reason I am writing this is because I would like some closure. I really don’t care to ever meet the man that just simply put sperm into my mother one night and made me. But simply put, I would like to know where I came from. I feel so guilty to wonder. I love the dad that has been there for me. He is my dad, but my blood is a different story. What do I do.

i am 30yrs old and have recently found an address and number for my possibly biological father .what do you say? How do i call him up and say this? How will i effect his life? to top this all off i will be telling him their is two of us i have an identicle twin. I just dont know how to approach this.exspecially when he doesnt even know we exhist.


Hello Tom
I am hoping that you nhave heard from you father by now. I was wondering whether you would be interested in having a chat with me about a programme that you might be familiar with. Its called FOUND a BBCTV programme that is presented by Kate Adie. It follows families and individuals as they search for their loved ones. There is also an appeal element to the programme. Its in its second series. I would love to hear from you
Call me 0207 288 2175
PS: Would it also be possible to have something up on your page incase anyone else is interested?

Hello Tom
I am hoping that you nhave heard from you father by now. I was wondering whether you would be interested in having a chat with me about a programme that you might be familiar with. Its called FOUND a BBCTV programme that is presented by Kate Adie. It follows families and individuals as they search for their loved ones. There is also an appeal element to the programme. Its in its second series. I would love to hear from you
Call me 0207 288 2175
PS: Would it also be possible to have something up on your page incase anyone else is interested?

I am 37 years old, and recently found out the name of my biological father. His name is Tommy Lathum. He lived in Matthews Missouri in 1968. I was born in 1969. I can’t find a Tommy Lathum there now, but would like to meet him and if anyone has any information that would help me to find my father, please email me at

I have just found my father over internet searches. I am 25 year old. I got a hold of him on a number I found over the internet doing a people search. I was so shocked that I had actually found him that just blurted out, “I think you might be my father.” Even though he admits it may be a possibility he refuses to take a paternity test. Is their anyway to legally force him to do so?

My name is Phil, I am 39 and married…been with my wife for about 12 years. When I married her, I knew that she had been a victim of the foster care system and mutiple transitions from family to family until being adopted at age 8. This is quite an ordeal for most, and has been a constant struggle for her over the last 28 years. About 6 months ago we started to put real effort into looking for her siblings and parents. After an exhaustive internet search, supported by factual information like her birth certificate and other factual info, we located her half-brother from her mothers side…who in turn knew her full biological sister. Six months later despite the new found family, she still struggles with the emotional loss of these life long problems…anyone who is looking, or is the spouse or loved one of a person looking, please be patient and understanding of them, this is really a situation that takes many years to deal with, and even after the reunion still has a course that needs to be run.

It may be too late to comment, but I have been scouring the internet for the past few days looking for people’s views just like yours. I have recently been told the contact information for a father I never knew at all and I am struggling so much with actually performing the act of contacting him. A letter, and email, a call. I spend hours thinking about the impact of each, searching to minimize the possibility of rejection. There will come a point when I no longer can let my fear hold me back, and I must do something. I do want to. I think.
I suppose I am writing to inquire more about your letter. Its truly unique to hear a story so eloquant and poignant. I thought to ask to see your letter, but alas, it would offer me nothing for its no my words. Not my story. And its something that you should not share unless you and only you want to.
So instead in my browsing, I will stop and pass a thank you to you. For sharing.

Hi, I read this after a quick search with google on “I never knew my father”. Well, here is my story. My mother G.C.Chapman met my father Jeff/Geoff Lucas about 1968, she was still married at the time but living with her mother and going through a messy divorse. She lived in or near Hyde. Jeff/Geoff Lucas lived in Glossop I am told. But he was also married and had a son, which my mother found out about later. I am 37 years old. My life has always been dogged by not knowing my real father and it still herts to think about it. I didnt get on well with my mother until recently, partly due to her asking me not to look for my father. In my early life I felt lost (some how missing who I was) I joined the army, which sort of gave me an identity and joined the NF which sort of did the same. I needed to belong and feel part of, I guess I needed a replacement father and family. Anyway after returning to England (learnt to speak fluent German, I have a real gift for languages. I also speak some others)anyway back into Civy street, the job situation had got a little better than the late 1980’s but not much. I started working in the usual Warehouse “crap jobs” avoided the secrity work I kept being offered, as pay was very poor. So after a while in deadhead jobs I started college and then applied to go to University. After graduation (Software Engineering) I worked for some big names like IBM, CIBA ect. until I had had enough of the travel and the stress. I now own my own landscape gardening business, that is doing pretty well and I enjoy it. I do WISH I could meet my father, probably more than anything in the world. Even more than winning the lotto! But I dont have much chance I guess of filling this hole in my life (my soul).

Iread the stories.
In 1986, i met a classmate ae the university, we started dated & that last for 3 yeas. I didn’t want to marry her; she knew that. She wasn’a fat woman, she gshowed some some weight in stomach, at the time I thought gained weight. we had intercourse & after that called her for 2 months, couldn’t find her. One day she called me & all of sudden I saw alittle kid in her arms. I told her where you have been & who is the kid; replied has been in the trip & the child belongs to neighbor!
I got suspecious & later went to her house then I ran to her bedroom; god knows, I was staunt, saw a little kind in there.I got crazy seeing the view. After a lot of hasstle, left there; Of course she was claiming that child is mine!
I left there. Befere,we used to go to a disco, shortly after the child was born, I meet her at the same place with in 2 different occations with other men! after a while she called my brother in order to call her! I haven’t met her Since1989.
I’m happily married & have a 10 year old son. Since then ihaven’t told anything about that matter to my wife. it is almost 17 years 7 I’m always been cureous that if the child is mine!
I’m afraid that someday some young child knocks my door & says HI DADDY!
I would apprecite any comment>

Hi everyone
I am 44 yrs old, and have never met my biological father. My mum has always been honest about who he was but she never knew his address. I sometimes tried to find his tel number but never could he was obviously XD. Maybe for a reason! I dont know. I have recently found out from the internet where he lives and although I am much older in years I dont feel much braver!
I suppose being afraid of rejection is the main concern and I do not want to have a negative effect on his marriage. I have been told that he has no other children…. I have written a letter that is waiting to be sent, stored on my PC at the moment. What kind of things should be in the letter, i have tried to be sensitive but realistic at the same time. If there is anyone out there who has been in a similar situation and would be prepared to advise me…then please do!

hi Tom,
well done for your courage. Its not easy to do it. Its true many people say its only writing a letter, but behind that letter there are many things. Hope that many other people like you will find the same courage and make a step foward.

Do it. Yesterday.
I “knew” who my father was. My parents were married at the time of my birth. They divorced when I was two and had a divorce that makes the words “hate” and “acrimonious” seem like understatements.
In my mind my bio-father disappeared when I was about four and resurfaced only one when I was about 20.
We had the kind of pen-pal politeness that imploded within a few years because I was guarded and he never spoke directly about where he had been all my life.
All I know is that I actually carried this delicious sense of martyrdom and “what it.” I’m embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed many fantasies over the years of how my father would find me someday and I’d really make him “earn” my relationship. That man was going to grovel before he’d get my attention. I was sure of it.
Then I got the call that my father, only in his mid-fifties, had died.
A man I thought I had little use for and no interest in knowing left this world forever and I was devastated.
Emotionally, physically to the core of my being.
Because I was always going to do something “someday” and it had to be “perfect” — I did nothing.
It truly never occured to me even ONCE that my father would just up and die on me. I thought we had … forever to get it right.
Now I beg of people JUST DO IT. Trying is better than nothing.
I did nothing. I did less than nothing. I will live everyday with the crushing sense and futile hope that if I could just have one more “do over” I would get it right – or at least get it done.
Then I could say ” well I tried …”
I actually envy people in your position Tom. I could write 10,000 words to my father and express mail them today without a qualm if I’d realized that sometimes you get cheated. You don’t get answers. You don’t get closure. You only get to live with the crushing sense of regret and a hole in the center of yourself that you didn’t even know existed until you discovered it could never be filled.
I hope by now this all old news – I wish you well.

I’m 30 years old now, never met my biological father he found me via the embassy. He is dying of cancer and would like to see me. There’s no blame or hard feelings, I can’t convey more than that, it’s a cauldron of emotions. Just feels good to get that off my chest and to past on a message to those hesitating that time is finite so don’t live with regrets.

I am 51 years old and my stepfather has been raising me forever. Of course I got married and graduated . I had an abusive child hood until my stepfather took us away from all the poverty and abuse On June 2nd of this year I along with God Talked him into going to the hospital he hates hospitals loves to work somehow he listened and they kept him the next day he flatlined and was brought back I love GOd for that gift we all owe GOD his life and for that I amm Truly humble. Praise the lord he wants to adopt me any suggestions?

I am 29 now and after a simply search on the internet for something I always try not to think about and always end up pondering about for time to time led me here. Reading through all of entries here it is clear to see I am not alone. My story is that I have never known, but have seen one picture of my father. My Mother, while at the age of 19, actually got married with my father after learning she was pregnant with me, but then somehow quickly separated and almost all pictures of the event where destroyed. All, but one that was poorly taken and kept by grandmother. The story behind the split up was that my father also had another woman pregnant at the same time my mom was. He ultimately chooses to be with the other woman. My mom being understandably hurt wanted nothing to do with my father and his family shut them completely out. My mom got remarried and at the age of 5 I was told that my stepfather was not by biological father and was actually happy to hear the news. Even at the young age I knew I hated my stepfather and he me. As a result of this I left to live with my grandparents, which as it turned out was the best thing that could have happened. The truth was never hidden from and have know the full name of my father and have known he lives in nearby city less than 25 minutes away, but I have never felt the urge to get up and go track him down. I would be simply to get his phone number or address and show up on his door step, but why would I do that. Shouldn’t it be him looking me up, why should I care, if he doesn’t? If it eats at me, shouldn’t it bother him more? The picture that my grandmother kept is of my mom and him at my grandparent’s house after their shotgun wedding, so he definitely always knew where he could have gotten in contact with me at. I cant lie it does bother me, anger me, hurt me that no attempt was ever made, but after all of that subsides I realize that I am fine with out him. Almost 30 what would meeting him do for me now. I am the person I am now due to the events and circumstance that have already taken place. It what all comes down to is too little to late. What is done is done and can’t be changed.

I stumbled across this website and boy has it been helpful. My story follows: I was told by my mother that my father had died when I was a baby. I knew relatively little about my father except for a few facts and had just one picture of him. Over the years there were things about the story that made me doubt what I was told. Finally, after a particular incident made me really doubt the story, I confronted my mother. By this time I was in my 30s (you just get busy living your life even though in the back of your mind the question of my father was always there). She finally told me that she and my father had never been married and that he never knew about me (my mother never married so I never had a stepfather). I sought out a private investigator who located my father within minutes on a database and gave me his address and phone number. At that point I didn’t know what to do. I feared rejection and also didn’t know what type of situation I might disrupt for him if I suddenly announced my existence. I sat on the information for awhile and made some feeble attempts at contacting him. I once sent a vague letter asking him to contact me without giving important details and once called his house but a woman answered so I hung up. Then about two years later I happened to come across the Social Security Death Index Search and entered his name and birthdate just for the heck of it. I found out that he had died two months prior. Boy did that hit me. I had found him then lost him without having met him (did you follow that?). I contacted his local newspaper and ordered a copy of the obituary. From the obit I found out that he had been married for a long time (was married at the time I was conceived) and had one son and a grandson. So for the past 9 years I’ve known about a half-brother and always wondered about him. But I questioned whether I had the right to contact him or if this whole chapter in my life was now closed because my dad had died. Did I really have a right to bring this baggage upon my half-brother? I kept thinking about this for years but always at the back of my head and heart was my need to make contact with him. I was always bothered by the fact that I existed but no one on my father’s side even knew that I existed. Long story short, I finally sent my half-brother a letter about two months ago. I did not include a phone number (just an address and e-mail). Well, a few days later he tracked down my phone number and called me. He is the NICEST person! So understanding and open. He even called me Sis during this initial conversation. I was so touched. We’ve spoken a few times since that initial conversation and he has always been so kind and gracious. He says he is going to send me pictures of my dad and a carving that he made with his own hands because “I have a right to it.” I’ve spoken about going out to his state to meet him and he seems open to it although I must admit that I am both scared to death and excited at the same time. I just want to make sure that I am not subjecting him to too much. I know this is an awful lot to suddenly throw at someone. I just don’t want too much time to pass before I meet him because I sat on stuff for two or three years after I learned about my father and then he died — I could have/should have acted sooner.

Well this information is definitely inspiring and so, perhaps just to get this off of my own chest, I feel I should share my story (or rather, my husband’s story) with the world.
My husband of over three years has known his whole life that he was born out of wedlock when his mother was in the US Air Force. His father (we know his name, but we affectionately call him “The Sperm Donor”) was also an airman but he was married and my mother-in-law was the other half of an illicit affair. MIL states that when she informed TSD of the pregnancy, he wanted nothing to do with it.
For years, MIL has been telling hubby that there once was a letter from TSD, addressed to the then-unborn baby, emphasizing that he wanted nothing to do with “it” and not to ever contact him. No one has ever seen this letter and, essentially, MIL has always been very mysterious about this matter, only giving up the most necessary info.
Hubby has always insisted that his life is very full and happy now that he has started a family of his own, but, being the only child of a single mother, his childhood was tumultuous, what with living with all manners of family members and moving about whenever money got tight. We have had many discussions on this subject, one with is aunt, even, who said that she tracked down her daughter’s “Sperm Donor” and sued him for child support. My husband wants nothing of this nature and, knowing that TSD is married and now has other children, hubby also does not wish to disrupt what might otherwise be a happy family.
But he is at a loss for how he should feel about all of this and, last night, at the age of 23 and now in the Air Force himself, he logged on to and searched his biological father’s name. The one result that seemed to match the current known location (military members can track active duty and retired members) was a 19-year-old boy whose main quote said something about ****ing s***. Without thinking, he sent a message to the kid asking if his father was ever in the Air Force, stationed to Ellsworth Air Force Base (his place of birth). The boy said yes, that was his father.
Today has been very difficult for hubby. I think he has made the decision that he wants to contact TSD but he is not sure how to go about it or what to expect. I have been very patient and supportive of him all along and will continue to be, and I definitely agreed with his decision.
His mother has said that she doesn’t understand why he is so interested in finding the man NOW and has even suggested that this is a bad time for my husband to do it (he has been promoted, will be changing jobs and duty stations frequently in the next year for training and career change). I have explained to my husband that he should do what he feels is right and make sure that he is doing it for the right reasons. I am worried that he will let this opportunity pass, then one day, when he is old, look back on this time in his life and wonder how TSD would have responded to the words “I think you are my father.”
I don’t want him to get his hopes up, because we are obviously prepared to find out that he wants nothing to do with his son, but secretly I am thinking how great it would be if we had children some day who could actually know both their grandfathers.
For now, hubby has sent a message to his “half-brother” saying that his dad was once in the military and may have served with TSD, and asking if there is any contact information so the two old buddies can catch up on old times. Here’s hoping for the best . . . .

To Ashpal:
What a place for your husband to find himself in. Given my own experience (my post is signed in as Susan and it was put on the website on May 16, 2008) I would encourage your husband to send his father a letter stating who he is, what the basic circumstances have been, and to let his father know why he is contacting him. I would not get too emotional in the letter or make the father feel that he HAS to respond but rather that the ball is in his court and that his son just wants him to know that he exists and would like to hear from him. I know that for me, the thing that made me contact my half-brother even though my own father had died, is that it was very strange to exist and not have the other half of me (my father’s side) know that I existed. Your husband may one day regret that he never tried as I now regret that I never tried harder to contact my father while he was living. He will never know otherwise. Good luck.

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