1000 WORDS ON...MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER
Of course this text has been partially edited to stay within the 1000-word barrier, but I reckon it's a unique way of expressing how this particular episode transpired.
From Newstalk106’s “City Edition” presented by Orla Barry(OB) and Declan Carty(DC) 11am November 27, 2003.
OB: Last Monday you may remember we did an interview with a young woman called Fiona Farrell who was desperately searching for her mother who had given her up for adoption and the search for parents is often a long and heartbreaking procedure but for one NewsTalk 106 listener, he found his dad in record time, using the internet! Jeff, good morning to you!
JLP: Hi Orla, love the show!
OB: Tell us a little bit about what happened, Jeff – first of all, you were adopted… when did you know you were adopted?
JLP: I wasn’t adopted, Orla, I was raised by my mother’s parents and had no contact with my father’s family growing up so I was similar to Fiona in terms of my curiosity, kind of wondering where you came from and all, I basically had two kids myself and I wondered about my own background for their sakes, you know?
OB: So you were well into your adult years by the time you began the search.
JLP: Yeah, I was about 30 or 31 at the time…
OB: And what did you think during that time; we asked Fiona what she was going to do if her mother says she doesn’t want to see her, for example that she doesn’t want anything to do with her.
JLP: Yeah, I got it through a website called www.ussearch.com they got me his address, and I had to write a letter, and I was wondering what to put in the letter, so basically I just said “My name is Jeff Lee, I’m looking for an old friend called Mark ...”…I didn’t wanna say something like “I think you’re my daddy” or anything like that…
OB: (chuckles) Just in case you’d spur a heart attack!
JLP: Something like that, yeah! Besides I wasn’t sure this was him, and I just had a name and an address to go on. So I sent off the letter, and it was like putting a message in a bottle; you send it out there and if you get something back, well and good. I had put an email address in with the letter, and two weeks later I got an email back saying “Hi my name is Mark. The only Jeff Lee I know is the son of a friend called Maura”, which is my mother’s name, and we just went from there!
OB: Oh my God! What was your response when you read it, Jeff?
JLP: Well it was weird at first, cos one thing he said was “I’m curious as to your interest in me”; from his point of view, he doesn’t know what I’m gonna be looking for! But anyway we sent some emails back and forth, and he’s now married again, and his wife was pushing it a lot as well, cos she was curious herself, the long lost son coming from across the water.
OB: And what about contact, then, have you met yet?
JLP: Yep, we have met, it started 2 years ago, so emails became webchats, webchats became phone calls, and last summer I went over myself to meet him. I just wanted to go over on my own first, cos things can go either way. He’d love to meet the kids and everything, but I just went over for a few days just to break the ice. It went fine, you know?
OB: So what did you think when you met him, the moment you set eyes on him, is there any family resemblance?
JLP: Yeah there is, well of course through the internet he would’ve sent pictures and stuff, so I would’ve seen what he looked like but it was more like mannerisms, and whenever I’d scratch my head his wife would go “Oh, Mark does that!”
DC: (laughs) It’s ironic, because having spoken to Fiona and her search has taken so long; literally yours was in the blink of an eye!
JLP: Yeah that’s the one thing I wanna stress is that I was really, really, lucky. I thought maybe my story would show that there is some hope out there, you know?
DC: And this website, what kind of information does it have? I’m intrigued as to how they had details on your father on file!
JLP: It cost about $60, and the only information I had on him was his name, his age, and his high school. Within 24 hours they had an address…I think in America with Social Security Numbers they have a lot more databases available; I’m not sure in Ireland would it be that easy to contact someone!
OB: Did you feel annoyed at any point, Jeff? Was there any sense of “What were you doing? Why weren’t you in my life?”
JLP: No, there was none of that at all, I was basically happy with the way I was brought up and I never really had any kind of resentment. I was just happy to find him and learn a bit more about my background to give to my kids!
DC: Have you found that you have more half-brothers and sisters that you never thought you had?
JLP: Yeah, he has four kids himself, but since I was only going over for a few days, I just met himself and his wife; he was going to have a big family barbecue, but I didn’t fancy that! Hopefully next summer I’ll go over with the kids and meet the whole clan!
OB: Good stuff! And what do your own kids think by the way about having a new granddad?
JLP: Basically, just more Christmas presents for them!
OB: (laughing)Very good Jeff, thank you for joining us, it’s nice to get a good news story for once!!!
© NewsTalk 106/JL Pagano 2003, 2004
NEXT, #44 - 1000 WORDS ON...SEPTEMBER 11, 2001