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As I’ve said on the “About” page FindingYourFather.com neither encourages nor discourage anyone’s search for their father. Having said that, here are some points to keep in mind before or while one is searching for his or her father. This resource page is not comprehensive; it will be updated. I do not know everything about finding people, but having been a professional reporter for some forty years and having been put into the position of searching for my biological father, I know this:
 

ASSUME NOTHING

 

The first thing anyone should do when they are trying to find out something or find someone is to ASSUME nothing. Do not assume a father doesn’t want to know you. Do not assume he has passed away. Do not assume he wants to see you. Do not assume that he does not love you. As Audrey Hepburn said about having found her father, one gets older and “you begin to understand that [your father] going away need not have anything to do with not loving you.”

 

Also, if your mother, relative or family friend gives you a name, do not assume that the name is spelled accurately. First try the spelling that has been given to you, then try various spellings from what the name sounds like. For example, Rod McKuen’s father’s name was Rodney McKune, not McKuen.

 

SEARCHING FOR A FATHER WITH HIS NAME

 

If you have your father’s name and do not know where he is, good places to begin looking are Facebook, Linkedin and Google.

 

Simply Google his name and see what happens. Also, use an Advanced Google search. Do just a name search first. Then try with a name and a place. Or list an an occupation.

 

Some people, excited about their decision to search, forget to look in the easiest places. A number of fathers, sons and daughters have been reunited through Facebook. When searching on Facebook, if you have a city in which he might be living, or the name of a college or an educational or professional network (such as a college) that he is connected to, put that next to the name in the search box.

 

If you have an idea of his age, where he is living, even only a state, you can check with various search engines on the Internet.

 

The search engine to start with is www.whitepages.com. With a name, you can get a list of all those persons with that name in the U.S. If you have a state and or a city, you can narrow it down. If that person’s phone is not listed, you may not get a phone number, so to contact, you may have to write a letter and hope for a response. If that person is listed, you may get their phone number for free.

 

A possible way to get an unlisted phone number is to go to the public library local to the person you are trying to reach and ask the research librarian if you can see what phone books it has. Go back in years. Some people keep the same phone number for decades. Some do so and then later decide to have it unpublished. But if it is unpublished in 2011, it may not be unpublished in the year 2000, or 1980.  

 

When I can’t find someone in the WhitePages or the phone book, I have found www.ussearch.com effective because with a first and last name and an age, you can, for free, get a list of persons with that name and the city and state in which they live, or last lived. To get exact addresses and phone numbers and further details, you will have to pay something. However, in order to avoid that, you can take the city/state information, if it is familiar, or likely, or known and call 411, nationwide phone information and see if you can get a phone number for the person listed in the town or city in question.

 

When you call 411, for the same charge you are entitled to 3 listings.  If there is no one listed by the name in question, ask for the phone numbers of people in that town with the same last name – especially if that town is small. Call them and ask if they know the phone number of the person you are trying to find. A relative may know a cell phone number. I generally do not like to rely on 411, as I do not trust the operator to always get the name right – the spelling. If no one is listed for the name in question, I usually check with another operator.

 

Understand that search engines like WHITEPAGES and USSEARCH -- or in the United Kingdom,192.com -- are not always up to date. Some information comes from voters registration lists and some people do not keep their voter registrations up to date. If you cannot find someone in one search engine, go to another.

 

If you cannot find someone through the white pages or a search engine, start gathering information about that person and create a list of persons who might be related to him – a mother, father, a wife – who could possibly help if you find them.

 

One way to do this is to go to the state office of vital statistics where the event occurred: a birth, death, marriage or divorce. Google the state and add “vital statistics” next to it. Be sure that when you click on the address that the state’s name has a “dot gov” after it, or you will end up at another search engine asking for money. By ordering a birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate – you can usually do this online -- you will usually be spending the minimum amount of money needed to get this information, unless you get it through newspaper announcements.  

 

Also try: www.newspaperarchive.com. This will cost a bit of money – but a minimum membership of three months should be worth a little more than $20. This will be a broad search but it may yield the names of contacts who could give you information or the location of the person you are looking for at a specific point in time. Look for obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, graduations, etc. These may yield the name of his parents, or a wife and other children, your siblings. You can also try www.nytimes.com or the local newspaper in question to see if it has archives.

 

If your father went to college or graduate school, law school or medical school you could write to the college alumni association; the address will be online. Enclose a letter to him in a sealed, stamped envelope and ask the alumni association to mail it to him at his last known address.

 

If your father went to high school, ask at the school if there were any reunions for the class from which he graduated – such as the class of l970. Ask if there is a list of addresses of those who were contacted for the reunion. If they will not give you the address, give them or send to them a letter to him that has been addressed and stamped and ask them to forward the letter to him.

 

If your father was a member of a trade union – such as a steel worker – contact the local union where you know he worked and ask for someone who has membership addresses. Write a letter and, again, providing a stamped envelope, ask that the letter to be forwarded to his last address. Be sure to put your return address on the envelope in case he has moved.

 

If your father served or may have served in the armed forces, check http://www.abmc.gov/services/index.php, the website for the American Battle Monuements Commission, which provides the names, location and information on veterans listed on monuments and cemeteries overseas and other information about veterans. For example, they have a database for Vietnam Veterans Missing in Action that can be searched for free online. Check everything in the navigation list.

 

The Library

 

The public librarian is a reporter’s best friend, and so may she or he be yours. They know of sources that most people do not know of and are constantly updated on new avenues of information.

 

For example, if your father is a professional, he may be a member of a professional association. There are yearbooks listing such members.

 

All you have to do is say you are trying to locate someone; could she make some suggestions. Tell her what information you have about your father.

 

If you are going far back in time, ask for help from researchers at your local historical society.

 

For hard to find publications, check with your local university library. See if they allow visitors to do research for short periods of time such as a day or a week. (Mine charges $5 a day.)

 

When trying to find people who served more than 50 years ago with my late stepfather in the State Department, I checked with several associations online, including the American Foreign Service Association. My stepfather was working in the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1951. I learned from a member of the association about a now defunct publication called “The Foreign Service List,” which lists foreign service officers and where they were posted at the time.

 

But because such a publication is no longer being published, that does not mean it no longer exists. With the help of a research librarian, I was able to order the publication to be pulled from the library archives. Within a few days I was able to look up the names of people who had worked with my stepfather who was involved with my mother around the time of my birth, though not my conception and I was obtain names of his co-workers, who gave me more information.

 

FINDING OUT YOUR FATHER’S NAME

 

If you are not adopted or are not the daughter or son of a donor, obviously, your mother is the best source for your father’s name. However some mothers are embarrassed or ashamed of having become pregnant out of wedlock, or they do not like the father, or the father disappeared or moved away or was married and he didn’t want to disrupt his first family. There are many possible reasons a mother may not want to reveal your father’s name. Some mothers do not want to “go there,” that is, face what happened in the past by talking about it and sometimes they think it doesn’t matter who a child’s father is.

 

If you cannot get your father’s name or the accurate story of what happened from your mother, and you wish to continue to search, I suggest you contact your stepfather(s), your mother’s boyfriend, and your mother’s parents, if possible. Others you should ask include your mother’s siblings, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends of the family, classmates, and people she worked with around the time of your conception, not birth. (I had to search for my father without my mother’s knowledge; my stepfather gave me clues.)

 

Your birth certificate and or your baptismal certificate may have your father’s name on it. Do not assume that the name given for your father on your birth or baptismal certificate is the accurate name of your father. This is not proof that this is your father. It is possible that this is the name of a family friend or a stepfather – and that person is a possible source for the true name of your father. Or the document in question may indeed name your father.

 

You should be able to get a copy of your birth certificate from the state, unless you are adopted. It depends upon which state you were born in. Some states do not permit disclosure of the birth records of adoptees. Please note that the state you were born in, however, may not be the state in which you were conceived. When you are trying to find your father’s name, the general environment – the school, place of employment, the neighborhood – of the place you were conceived is the place to look.

 

Your baptismal certificate is available through the records office of the church where you were baptized. If that church has been closed, go to the archdiocese for the area. They should have a record. Also, if you later received sacraments and the church where you received them was connected to a school, the school may have copies of your earlier documents. Godparents also may know something about your father.

 

School and day care records may also have your father’s name on them. Locate the school on the internet, get the name of the person to write to in the school office and write.

 

Whenever possible within any organization, if you need to write to get information, get a name and a title of someone in that organizaton’s office so that they are accountable for your request for information.

 

SEARCHING FOR A FATHER WITHOUT HIS NAME

 

Obviously searching for anyone with their name is going to be easier. But searching for a father or parents without a name is not impossible. So please see our Guest Writer Joe Holt’s story by clicking here.

 

If you are a donor offspring, that is, if your mother conceived through a sperm bank, you need to get your father's identification number or code from the bank where your mother obtained his sperm.  Then I recommend that you consult the Donor Sibling Registry, a private registry – similar to our Mailbox -- that helps connect offspring with their father or siblings by the sperm bank identification number the father goes by.

 

If your father is a sperm bank donor who wishes to remain anonymous, and the laws or sperm bank agreement protecting his anonymity have not been changed, the only thing you can do is write to him, care of the sperm bank where your mother obtained his sperm. Perhaps he will change his mind. Sometimes young students contribute to sperm banks as anonymous donors and later change their minds.

 

If your donor father does not stipulate that he wants to be anonymous, there may be an identification number or code or birth date through which you may be able to contact him through the bank. If the address he has given the bank doesn’t help you, you may be able to find him through the Donor Sibling Registry.

 

If you cannot find your donor father because he wants to remain anonymous, you may be able to find siblings through the DSR. There may be many many siblings. The Donor Sibling Registry has learned that at least 125 children have been born of one particular donor through a Virginia sperm bank.

 

Please note that the fee to post or edit a listing and see contact information through the DSR is $50 a year, or $150 for a lifetime membership, but the site administrator, Wendy Kramer, states that no one is turned away for financial hardship. Click here to visit the Donor Sibling Registry. (Findingyourfather.com is not affiliated with the DSR.)