As if entering my senior year of college, planning a wedding, and finding out that my biological mother was gay weren't enough… for some reason, that summer it became very important to Jon that I locate my biological father. To be fair, it's not like he was pushing me in a direction I didn't want to go—I had at some point told him that I felt I was ready to start searching for this man. When I had first found out the details of my adoption from my parents, knowing that Jan was my birth mom was enough. I didn't want to push any harder—I couldn't take any more! But now two years had gone by, my relationship with Jan was settling into its own unsteady rhythm, and I was becoming a stronger person. I felt that I could handle whatever lay behind that door.
In all honesty, when I told Jon that I was ready to search for my biological father—Frank—I just meant I was ready to spend a few minutes on the internet Googling him (Did we have Google back in 2000?) and then give up and say, "Well, at least we tried." But to Jon, this became a real mission.
So let's start with what Jan knew about him. It wasn't much. She knew his name (which is a very common one, both first and last), the state that he lived in when they met, that he was also in the Air Force, and that he was married at the time of their relationship. Her last direct contact with him was on the day that I was born, or maybe the day after, when she told him that she had given me up for adoption. She knew that he had lived in California at some point after that, but had no address or anything like that.
That was it. Wait—I believe we even knew his MIDDLE INITIAL. Yep, now THAT is a detail, folks! Seriously, it wasn't much to go on, and we weren't even sure where to start. Jon, a landlord who periodically has to track down tenants who chose to skip town without paying their rent, quickly thought to contact a man that he sometimes used to aid with finding such tenants. He agreed to help, but warned us that it could be expensive. He talked to us about some options to keep cost down… like he would print out a list of every man with that name in the right age range who had a military background, and then Jon and I could do further research on each person on the list to eliminate the wrong ones. Yikes!
I was ready to give up. I was reading the writing on the wall: Don't go down this road. But now that we had started, it was hard to stop. Especially for Jon. When he would get burned out at the office and need a break (He was a workaholic who often stayed at the office until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, only to return by 7:30 or 8:00.), he would search online for anything that might help.
And that's how we got our big break. He somehow came across a messageboard for people searching people who had been in the military. (Did ya follow that?) And do you know what he found? A message from a woman named Jan searching for a man named Frank (with the same last name as my birth father) who had been in the Air Force in the 70s and 80s. He knew that the woman was not my birth mom, but it seemed like more than a coincidence. He used her profile to contact her and explain what little we knew of my birth father (without disclosing why we were looking for him), and asked if it was possible that we were seeking the same person.