How to Find Your Biological Father

by Fraser Sherman

Finding your father, for some people, is like finding a piece of yourself. Adopted children or kids raised by a single mother wonder about the man they never knew. Did he want them? Does he miss them? Some of them wonder enough to try hunting him down. There's no guarantee it can be done, but if you make the effort, it's possible you'll find your biological father – and with him, find answers that will lay your questions to rest.

Gather Identifying Information

The first step is to finding a parent is to collect whatever information is available. If you can find the following, you're off to a strong start:

  • His name
  • His job
  • Where he lived, or where he and your mother met
  • His college
  • Where his family lives

Your mother or other family members might be able to tell you some of this. You can also check your birth certificate, or parish records if you were baptized as an infant. If you went through an open-adoption process, you might have access to detailed records about your absent parent. The more you know, the better the odds.

Search Engine Tips

Unless your parent had a unique name like Mysterious McPerson, typing his name into a search engine is likely to generate a ton of false positives. Still, if you have the name and even a little more information, it's worth trying as an opening move. If you haven't seen the name written out, try multiple variations of the spelling.

Use His Backstory

If you have learned something about your father – his college, his job – that gives you more places to search. Colleges have alumni records and contact information; trade unions, professional associations and employers do too. They might not be willing to offer much information, but, if nothing else, you can send them a stamped envelope and ask them to mail it to your father's last known address. You can also try to find other people who worked with him or were in his graduating class and contact them for help.

A Military Man?

If you know your parent was in the military, you have more options. The Air Force and the Navy have locator services for active-duty personnel. The Department of Veterans Affairs forwards messages to veterans if the VA knows the current address. Veterans groups such as the American Legion also maintain directories of members.

If privacy regulations don't allow the military to give you what you need, you can work through a confidential intermediary. This is a legal firm that makes contact on your behalf to see if your parent is interested in contacting you in return.

DNA Testing

If you don't mind spending money as well as time, you can get your DNA tested by one of the various services, such as Ancestry.com. The different testing services maintain websites. If you pay to sign up, you can search for other members whose DNA is a close match with yours. Even if your parent isn't on the site, it's possible you can find your parent by tracking down other relatives who can help you.

About the Author

A Durham, NC resident, Fraser has written about law, starting a business, balancing your budget and fighting evictions, among other legal and financial topics.