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.

17 replies on “In which it all starts to become real…”

Tom, I can’t for the life of me imagine what emotions are going through your head right now.m but I’m sure I’m not the only person reading your words who’ll be hoping for further steps forward in your journey. Best of luck to both you and your father.

It’s difficult to say anything more about it than I hope it all turn out for the best and that I admire your courage and that your series of posts has been one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve read this year.
Please, please, let him google your name and find this because it’s a testament to how much it means to you.
P.S. Here, blogging is NOT a game.

There’s really not much someone can say in response to a post like this, Tom. Admiting to cry reading a blog post sounds weird, but here we are.
Best of luck. My fingers are crossed for you.

I’ve just been with my partner to Ireland to see the place his family originated from. It brought up a lot of questions for me as well; I have never met either of my parents. I was in local authority care from birth until I was 18 and then I was on my own, it’s funny really not having a family history, I’ve no idea what congenital problems I may have, I have no parental expectations, although Matt‚Äôs parents sometimes supply some of that 🙂
It seems strange to some people that I’m just me, on my own, no family to talk about, no one to visit, no one to get cards off for birthdays, no one to contact in case of emergencies‚Ķand now I‚Äôve read your blog Tom and found out about Traceline, and I wonder‚Ķis it worth it, should I look, what would I find, who would they be, and do I even want to know? Would I be looking to prove that I‚Äôm different; would it be ironic to find similarities? Are they alive, are they dead, are they married, do they have children, do I have other brothers and sisters? All the questions I‚Äôve asked myself for years without any idea of an answer‚ĶI wonder, and now maybe I could get an answer‚Ķhead fuck time really‚Ķbut thanks Tom, maybe I‚Äôll try and at least the decision is mine‚Ķ

Wow. After not even thinking about contacting my long-lost father for years I very nearly did the same thing a couple of months ago when I found the traceline site… Except I didn’t or couldn’t go through with it. Not seen him since age 3 (28 years ago as it happens). Quite amazing you are blogging this, are you sure you won’t regret doing so?

Your story sounds so similar to mine and stirred all sorts of emotions as I read your account of your search for the first time.
It’s amazing how much mythology one builds up around the absent parent, and that’s one of the things that terrifies me about ever finding my dad who split with my mum before I was a year old. What if he totally fails to live up to my image of him (very likely from the little I gleaned from relatives!)? What if he has a whole new family (entirely possible) with children who have enjoyed a lifetime of his love?
I really hope this works out for you and that your courage pays off. Having read your blog and met you once, I think your dad has much to be proud of and should feel honoured that you want him to be part of your life.

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