I am a bastard.
June 12, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for my biological father. I'm 23. He lived in the Fondren Court North Apartments or another apartment complex/building on Fondren Road in Houston TX in the latter end of 1981, was a mechanic at that time, could be Polish, and quite possibly has no idea that I exist.

My mother had some sort of (I believe) short-lived casual sexual relationship with this man, and it ended when he pursued someone else while she moved somewhere else.

She found out she was pregnant and did eventually send a letter to his last known address, but apparently he was moving as well. She raised me for my first three years on her own after which she got married and I've known and loved that man as my father ever since, but have always known that he was my adoptive father.

I never really cared to look for my biological father until this year, mostly out of knowing how difficult it would be, but now I recognize the constant feeling like I have no frame of reference for my own existence is probably a result of having not known a father who was anything like me in character or appearance.

Most importantly, I just want to see with my own two eyes the provider of half of my DNA. I understand the possibilities of rejection, and rejection isn't something that I'm unfamiliar with, so there's no need to educate me regarding that.

The information in the first paragraph is all that I have about him. My own mother has a failing memory and is unable or unwilling to provide any more information, and it was from her that the name in my adoption papers came from, so I honestly have only this information to go by.

What kinds of options do I have? But, more desperately, do you have any information?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total)
Have you considered hiring a private investigator? It'll probably be expensive, but this is well within their everyday purview.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:55 AM on June 12, 2005

You might try checking out public records and searching for variations on the name. You can purchase access to a legal research site like Lexis-Nexis (for public records, searches are free, but bringing up the full text of the results costs $1-$4 per record). I came across some other commercial sites like zabasearch.com and privateeye.com that let you search for free but, again, charge to view substantive results.
posted by roundrock at 9:10 AM on June 12, 2005

[personal details deleted]

However, proceed carefully. This person may have married or have personal relationships that would complicate the sudden appearance of a long lost son. You might want to talk to other adults who have tracked down their birth parents before you actually make contact.

Here is an online resource for those looking for birth parents or children.
posted by jeanmari at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2005

And realize that until there is DNA proof, it may be difficult for him to make an emotional commitment to you. Imagine someone says, "There's a ninety percent chance you've won the lottery, but we just have to check out a couple more guys with similar tickets."
Would you start spending?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:10 AM on June 12, 2005

If you can afford it, go for the private eye. This is what they do.
If not, the Zabasearch options are a good try. But don't rule out the possibility that this guy left the country.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2005

I agree with the private investigator route. I suspect that you'll have less of a chance contacting the wrong guy with a professional finding the address.
posted by cmonkey at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2005

Before you delete- anonymous, you are probably aware that your biological father may be ambivalent, or frightened, or angry that you have found him, or that you exist at all. He may not answer your phone calls or your letters, and if he does he may disengage before you feel like you have had a chance to understand who he is and was. But one reasonable request- and one that would be relatively easy for him to fulfill, and one that will be very important to you in the coming decades- is to ask him for a personal and family medical history. A friend had the very painful experience of locating his birth mother and receiving a letter from her saying that she could not have any kind of sustained contact with him. She did, however, give him an overview of her family's medical history. That didn't make things any less hurtful or confusing, but it was crucial in other ways, ways that had to do with his life, not with hers.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2005

I'm kinda similar to our friend "anonymous" here, where I've never known my biological father. However, I've never been of the mindset of find this donator of genetic good. But far be it from me, to ever deny the right to post the biological father's name with the hopes of finding him. Please don't delete the thread.
posted by mkelley at 7:30 PM on June 12, 2005

you have been MeTa'd.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2005

Fondren Court North Apartments .
If, it’s the same apartment complex I lived in during the 70's; it's a field now. {If I’m correct about the field, how would a detective find any related record of the dad from the place now?}
posted by thomcatspike at 8:29 AM on June 13, 2005

Polk Directories (also known as "city directories") list people by address, reverse phone numbers, etc. They are published every year for most of the country. If you can locate copies for the period in questions, try that.

Also try finding old phone books. Private investigative agencies hoard old phone books for exactly this purpose.

Once you find a name, there are a variety of private databases (like for credit checks) that will produce an enormous amount of information. Most private investigators, bail bondsmen and skip tracers have access to these. You will ultimately need to obtain the target's social security number in order to make maximum use of these searches.

Which raises a key issue: you must find as much confirming information that identifies one individual and solves the question of how many people have this same name. I'm aware of four people in the U.S. who have the same name as I do (and I have an unusual last name); right down to the same middle initial. One of these people has a very similar social security number. None have the same birth date. So you need to confirm (at the very least) the birth date of the target and use this to test that you aren't turning up someone with a similar name.

This is why phone book searches are not very useful alone. You also need to find other public information (especially records that provide positive identifiers like social security number and birth date.)

DO NOT contact someone to find out if they are your target without doing the checks on birthdate, social security number, preferably residence and employment history. It can be considered an invasion of privacy (laws vary by state) to just be barging into people's private lives.

Be careful out there.
posted by warbaby at 2:07 PM on June 13, 2005

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