In which it all starts to become real…


On May 17th this year, I took a very small step towards trying to find my biological father who I haven’t seen since I was about five, twenty-eight years ago. I rang up Traceline and the Salvation Army and started a process that is still going on today. On May 18th I filled in a form and sent it to Traceline. I didn’t hear anything for over a month and then it wasn’t solid or certain – Traceline thought they’d found him but weren’t sure. On June 27th I received a letter confirming that they were pretty solid, but it took me until July 30th to write my letter in response.

If you want to contact your lost relatives through Traceline, then they have to be sure first that your relatives want to be contacted. So they take your letter and they sit on it. And they send a letter to the relative concerned. And if the relative wants it, then they let Traceline know. If after three months, they haven’t heard anything, then they send you your letter back. I sent my letter six weeks ago. I’d pretty much given up on the Traceline experience.

And then I got a letter – a very very short letter. And not from my father, from Traceline. And it’s not the most exciting letter in the world. But it has meaning. It has resonance. And it bloody matters to me. It reads:

Traceline has been successful in contacting the above-named and your letter has now been forwarded.

If this means nothing else, it means that something I’ve said, some words I’ve written are now in the hands of my father. He knows where I am. He knows what I want and what I’m doing. He knows I have a younger brother. And he also knows – for good or ill – that I’m gay. You probably understand how great that feels – how much more real it makes the idea of having a father. But apart from the feeling of connection that I’m experiencing, there’s other less honourable stuff going on I think. I cannot tell you how good it feels – now that I’ve done all that I can do – for it now to be his responsibility to decide how to proceed. It’s now his turn to take this further, his fear to deal with, his responsibility to take up or fail. For a while, at least, I can do nothing more.

All in all though, it’s a step forward – another step forward in one of the longest and scariest personal projects I’ve ever engaged in. And now, I suppose, the worst that can happen is that I get the measure of the man – one way or the other. And the best is that maybe this is one more step towards having an opportunity to finally meet.