How to find a long lost father

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether for medical backgrounds or personal reasons, children may want to reconnect with a long-lost father but don't know how to get started. With the advent of the Internet, information is easier to attain. The Internet cannot, of course, guarantee a reconnection.

Talk to relatives and family friends.

Talk to relatives and family friends. They may have kept in contact with your father or have a last-known address for you to follow up on.

If you know your father's full name you can start your search locally by checking the white pages, or go online and use the White Pages website for a nationwide search (see Resources section). You are sure to get many hits, so try to match other information, such as a knowledge of where your father grew up and what city or state he may be working or living in.

Use search engines to find him. If your father belongs to any unions or associations his name may be mentioned on websites or in news articles. Narrow your search by including the city you think he may be in or any other information you may have. For example, your search may look like this: "John Smith Wauwatosa Wisconsin Navy Retired."

Check public court records. If you think your father may have a criminal record, many states allow you to search court records online for both criminal and civil proceedings as well as marriage and death certificates. If you know your father's birthday you can quickly eliminate false leads.

If your father was involved in a church, there may be an address for him in a church registry. Some churches have records online as well, so first talk to your local or family church and work your way out from there.

Place an ad in the paper. Traditional newspapers, community papers and online sources like Craigslist have a missed connections section or place where you can take out a personal ad to find your father. Ask readers to contact you through a P.O. box if they know your father or know of a way to connect you.

Know that he may be looking for you too. Keep your phone number listed and place a note on your Facebook page or blog letting him know you want to reconnect. Your father may be monitoring your life from afar, so let him know that you are open to talking.

Check alumni associations. Both high schools and colleges keep records of their alumni and you may be able to find a current or last-known address for your dad through the alumni association. Conversely, you can also try to connect with some of his old college friends who may still be in touch.

Hire a detective. If your father is out of the country or has been gone for a long time, you may want to invest in hiring a location service or detective to help you in your search. You will want to supply your detective with as much information as possible, including your father's full name, Social Security number, birth date and place of birth.

Pay for a person finder service online. Online search engines will pull up public records for a small fee that may help you get started with your search by finding a current address and phone number.

Connect with other lost relatives. Expand your search for any siblings, aunts or uncles that you may have lost touch with who may know where your father is. By broadening your search you may get closer to finding your father and reconnect other meaningful relationships.


Gather all the information you can before you begin your search. Having a birth date and Social Security number will make your search much easier.


Get some counselling before you start your search to be sure your goals are realistic and to prepare you for finding your lost relative.

Things You'll Need

  • White pages and phone directories
  • Contact with extended family
  • Knowledge of schools your father enrolled in
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