Yvette Ferrari has spent the past 45 years not knowing her biological father. She only knew that in 1966 her 17-year-old mother had encountered a medic in the Army who was stationed in St. Louis, Missouri, and became pregnant with his child. Until she was 21 years old, Yvette did not even know the name of her father. She spent years thinking about finding him, but she did not start the process in earnest until 2011.
She began searching for her father more than 10 months ago, even though she had little information about him. She knew his name, his approximate age, that he served in the military and that his family was from Baltimore.
Using what she knew, she searched the Internet for any connections. She found a number of people with the same name as her biological father. But after months of disconnected numbers and dead ends, she decided that she needed some professional help.
Yvette contacted a couple of private investigators and also reached out to a television show that specialized in reuniting long-lost loved ones.
I spoke to Yvette on the phone last week. She told me her story. I told her that I had a good success rate at finding people, but I was honest with her. She wanted some guarantee that I would find her father, but unfortunately, I can’t make guarantees.
There were an infinite number of possible reasons that this may not end up the right way. With such limited information, I thought it might be impossible to find him. A name, an approximate age and a connection to Baltimore were not much to go on. Knowledge that he served in the military helped. Alternatively, her father could be dead or living in a different country; or worse, even if I found him, he might not want to have anything to do with her.
There were too many possibilities to guarantee anything. I would be out of business if I made guarantees.
At the end of the call, I told her that I would do some preliminary research to see whether there could be any chance of success.
I reached out to her that night and told her that I thought I could help. Yvette still wasn’t sure, though, and wanted the weekend to think about it. By Tuesday, she had decided to go ahead with it. She was concerned that there were no guarantees, but I assured her that I would do the best I could.
With the little information she had provided, the search began.
Within a few hours, I had a good lead. A person with her father’s name and of similar age was found in Georgia. Additional queries revealed that he had connections to the Baltimore area, and by scouring public records I found that he had been collecting income from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a sure sign that he had served in the military.
I couldn’t be certain that this was her father without verifying his military records, but I knew that it would take weeks to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives and Records Administration. I knew she didn’t want to wait weeks.
On Friday morning, I emailed Yvette the results of the research. I told her that I had a great deal of confidence that I had identified her father, but could not be 100 percent certain until I got the military records back.
At the end of the day, an email came across my screen.
“It was him,” Yvette said.
Her father didn’t know she existed, she said. He apologized, saying that if he had known about her he would have tried to reach out to her. She said she held back her tears until she broke down talking to some friends.
Next month, on her birthday, Yvette Ferrari is going to meet her father. She is meeting him in Austin, Texas, where Yvette, her mother and her father will reunite for the first time in more than 45 years.
That’s one hell of a birthday present!
Author’s note: It’s not often that people get to do work that gets them excited every day. Luckily, I have one of those jobs. I do all different kinds of work every day, but these are the types of cases that are the most satisfying. This made my day … and possibly my year.