Thursday, October 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Shot in the dark’ Facebook message brings family together

1920459_10152200620294076_197668174_n

By
From page D1 | March 09, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Sara Batres, an adopted 32-year-old Sacramento attorney, posted a picture of herself Feb. 16 on Facebook, holding a sign asking for help locating her biological father.

It said she was born in Fairfield on May 28, 1981, and included her mother’s name, Darby Childress, and her own birth name, Shale Taraida.

Her post was shared more than 2,500 times and, in a frenzy of teamwork by complete strangers, by Feb. 20, Batres not only had found the man who she believes is her biological father, but also acquired insights about her late mother, Darby Hanson Childress, whom she never knew.

Darby Hanson Childress

Darby Childress was born  Nov. 13, 1956, in Imola. Her parents relinquished custody rights and she was placed in foster care.

When she was 2½ years old, Childress was adopted by Loyal and Edna Hanson of Fairfield. Loyal Hanson became the mayor of Fairfield from 1970 to 1972. They had a biological child, Carol Hanson, who clamored for a sibling.

Hanson remembered Childress as intelligent, creative and kind, yet troubled. Childress’ problems escalated when she hit puberty, Hanson said.

“She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and collected (Social Security Income) checks from the time she was 17. I was eight years older than her and moved out when I was 20 years old. I lived in Sacramento and would visit on the weekends,” Hanson said. “Darby would make paranoid statements like, ‘They are looking at me and they are after me.’ ”

Childress went to facilities for help, including one in Walnut Creek and Napa State Hospital.

Vacaville resident Denese Burrell was Childress’ best friend from 1970 to 1975. According to Burrell, her friend’s condition when leaving Napa in 1975 was “heartbreaking.”

“They had her on all kinds of drugs. She stayed with us for a couple of weeks then took off with a friend of ours and that was the last I ever saw of her,” Burrell said.

Childress lived in Fairfield for a time, married and had four children that were put up for adoption. On March 1, 2010, she died on a San Francisco sidewalk. Her death certificate lists “probable complications of chronic ethanolism” under cause of death.

Sara Batres

Batres is the third of Childress’ four children.

“I was adopted into a conservative evangelical Christian family. I was home-schooled and my mom sewed all my clothes,” Batres said. “As a teen, I was rebellious. I wasn’t doing drugs or anything, I just wanted to have friends outside of the church. I moved out of their house at 15. I had a child, moved to Vacaville, got married and then divorced. My adopted parents didn’t believe in divorce and have not talked to me since then.”

Batres said she put herself through University of California, Berkeley, then decided to become a lawyer. She graduated from the McGeorge School of Law in June 2013, passed the bar in November and is now an attorney practicing in Sacramento. It was while going to law school that the journey to find her biological father was jump-started.

First Family Contact

Batres had received information on her mother years before, but her father remained a mystery.

“In a closed adoption when you turn 18, you can get some information. So I knew her name, got two pictures and a synopsis of her life,” Batres said.

Then on Sept. 15, 2011, Batres received an out-of-the-blue message on Facebook while in a class at law school from her half-brother whom she had never met, Suisun City resident Abraham Ross.

“For his birthday, Abraham’s adoptive mother gave him an envelope with information from Facebook about me and Carol Hanson,” Batres said. “I was in class and got a message saying, ‘My name is Abraham and my mother’s name was Darby and I think you’re my sister.’ It was really exciting. I was his birthday present.”

A Series of Fortunate Events

Batres’ decision to post a picture on Facebook of herself holding a sign asking for help in her search for her father was purely a shot in the dark. She didn’t have a name, age or ethnicity. What she did have was the networking power of Facebook. She got help immediately when people saw her post.

“I was not even Facebook friends with Sara,” Vacaville resident Jessica Marinelarena said. “One of my friends shared her picture. When I saw it was from Fairfield, I read it aloud to my dad.”

Marinelarena’s father, Ron Scott, was visiting from Oregon.

“I said, ‘Oh, I knew Darby. Her boyfriend’s name was Richard,’ ” Scott said. “I knew them back in 1980 or 1981. Darby was pregnant, but they broke up before the baby was born, I think.”

Within one day, Batres had a lead. From there it snowballed.

“It was a collective effort. I got his first name, then his last, but with an incorrect spelling. The next day I got the correct spelling – Chouinard. Then I got a message on Facebook from some guy I didn’t know named Rick Williams with two phone numbers,” Batres said.

It turns out Rick Williams not only created the 5,000-plus member “I Grew Up in Fairfield Too” Facebook group where Sara’s picture had been posted repeatedly, but he is also a private investigator.

The first number was disconnected, but the second was Amy Chouinard, who was raised in Fairfield but now lives in Vacaville.

“I saw the Facebook message from Sara that said, ‘This is probably going to be the weirdest message you’ve ever got, but I wanted to ask you if anyone in your family was named Richard,” Amy Chouinard said. “I told her that, yes, Richard was my father.”

Just four days after her posted plea, Batres posted a picture of the man she believes to be her father, Richard Chouinard, with the words “I found him.” He lives in Southern California.

The circumstantial evidence that she had tracked down the right person included a strong family resemblance.

“Sara has the Chouinard ‘golden ratio.’ It is like the equation of different points in the face – the cheekbones, nose, chin. It’s spot on,” Amy Chouinard said. “It’s like a stamp that we have on my dad’s side.”

One distinctive facial feature convinced Batres that she had found her half-sister and father. She described the dimpled chin they all share less delicately than part of a “golden ratio” and chose instead, “butt-chin.”

To remove all doubt, Sara and Richard Chouinard plan to take a DNA test.

“Finding my biological father is so much better than not knowing. I now know that I am French, Portuguese and Spanish. I never knew my heritage,” Batres said. “Real life isn’t TV. It’s bittersweet and full of angst. That’s what makes the good times so wonderful.”

Darby’s Diaries

Batres’ search for her father serendipitously turned up a photo album and diary written by her mother in her late teens.

Fairfield resident Jim Carr, who had dated Childress in the eighth grade, came into possession of them two years ago and recently rediscovered them during spring cleaning. The items were salvaged 20 years ago from an abandoned house that Childress stayed at on Tabor Avenue. The woman who found them had forgotten about them until she started dating Carr.

“I’m Facebook friends with Denese Burrell, who was in some of the photos, so I called and asked her if she wanted them and she came and got them,” Carr said. “Then, boom! The next day she posted Sara’s picture on my Facebook page with ‘OMG!’ It was unreal.”

The diary, written while Childress was in Napa State Hospital, highlights the creativity and intelligence many remembered, as well as Childress’ issues. Writings, poems, pictures and song lyrics fill its pages. One entry titled “25 Sentences Beginning with I Want” includes, “I want a neat little sports car” and “I want help.”

Batres and Ross made a pact to fulfill as many on the list as possible.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at toekneeweighed@gmail.com.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 8 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Carol HansonMarch 09, 2014 - 12:53 am

    Tony, thanks. There are some details that are left out, but, all in all, a really good article. So happy for Sara, but I really want this to be a tribute to my sweet sister, Darby, who never got the help she really needed.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Blanca BotwinMarch 09, 2014 - 7:37 am

    Carol, your sister sounded like a good person who was really loved by her friends and family. It saddens me that she didn't have an easier life. I'm so happy your niece found some of her family, and I'm quite impressed with Sara having a child at a young age then putting herself through college,law school, and passing the bar. Honestly, I'm impressed that she did that,but having a child while she did it simply blows me away. I just shared one of these please help me posts yesterday on FB, and now, I'll never pass one without sharing it. Awesome story.Thanks to everyone involved.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jessica MarinelarenaMarch 09, 2014 - 5:46 am

    Tony, this is an awesome article. Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad we could all help Sara.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Sarah SaleMarch 09, 2014 - 7:17 am

    Wow! I'm adopted and my Biological mother was sent to the State Hospital in Napa where I was actually born in '81...our stories sound very similar...but I know the name of my biological father and he is apparently dead....amazing and inspiring! Happy you were able to get so much info in so little time!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Donna IngramMarch 09, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Tony, you've brought me to tears once again. Great story, and well told. I found my father in 2002, before Facebook, via Classmates.com, thanks to the kindness of strangers willing to help and take that extra step. I was able to find and correspond with my biological father, and still correspond with him and a half brother. Thank you for sharing Sara's story.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Gail Reed BondMarch 09, 2014 - 11:32 am

    Thank you,Tony, for writing this article. It gives so many people that are searching for their biological roots, HOPE. I think it is absolutely amazing that Sara has accomplished all that she has and I'm very happy for her. Years ago, mental illness treatment was not what it is today. I wish Darby could have received the treatment she needed because who knows what she could have accomplished. In recognition and tribute to Darby Hanson Childress may we always treat mental illness with professionalism, dignity and continued education. We still have a long ways to go, but today offers many medication and professional counseling that can give a person like Darby a normal life. Thank you, Tony.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • carrie HeathMarch 09, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    Sara, where ever you are - Carol is my Dads cousin and Loyal was my grandma's brother. I am so excited to read about another member of our family! Welcome back to the Hanson fold :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MDSMarch 09, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    Very nice story, but the most impressive part is the story before she found her father. Had some troubles as a teen and moved out of the house and had some issues, yet put herself through UC Berkeley and then McGeorge School of Law and then passed the California State Bar Exam on her first attempt. That is a pretty darn impressive accomplishment right there.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Home: Some things never change

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Victim of Tuesday traffic incident dies

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

Holiday boutique set for weekend

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Live Your Dream award applications due Nov. 15

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Transportation Info Depot opens Monday in Suisun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Salvation Army set to host Kroc Fest

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Deadline looms for vote-by-mail ballots

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
.

US / World

California orders risk-based Ebola quarantine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
Pentagon orders 21-day Ebola quarantine for troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
US health care unprepared for Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Suge Knight, Katt Williams charged with robbery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Military jet crashes in California, killing pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Army blows up houses, Egyptians evacuate near Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Peshmerga troops cheered by fellow Kurds in Turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

New York, New Jersey look back 2 years after Sandy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Al-Qaida: IS should rejoin group and fight West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Bill Clinton says voting is cure for polarization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Lava 100 feet from Hawaii home, nearing main road

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Man decapitates mother, is killed by train

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

We’ve got to stop meeting like this

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Davenport, Pal, Spering best choices for vote

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Measure A helps students

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Jane Day for council: She cares

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Do you trust Spering?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

Support for Spering, Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Measure A a simple choice

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Mraz is desperate

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 5 Comments

 
Vote for Moy; Vote for Fairfield

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Time for something new: Integrity

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Supports Timm for Fairfield council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Measure A a wise investment

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Spering record not set straight

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
In support of Brian Thiemer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Debate was eye-opening

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Vote for Catherine Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Tonnesen right choice for City Council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Vote for Tonnesen

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Learn to say no

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Support for Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Proposition 47 fails to advance state

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Mraz not best officer for council post

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Moy is the leader we need

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A10

 
My sister won’t talk to any of us, I’m worried about my nephew

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A10

.

Entertainment

‘House of Cards’ actress Norment dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Orson Welles’ last film may finally be released

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Taylor Swift talks books and music with kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Royals’ dream season falls short in World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Bumgarner, Giants beat KC to win World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

Bumgarner, Giants beat KC 3-2 in Series Game 7

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Selig’s imprint seen in Game 7 of World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants fans revel in victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Giants ace Bumgarner wins World Series MVP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors whip Kings 95-77 in season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jose Canseco resting at home after shooting hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sacramento breaks ground on new Kings arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

It’s Thursday Night Lights for SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B2

 
49ers rookie center Marcus Martin to make NFL debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Stanford men looking to build on NCAA tournament run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carr prepares for tough test vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Vanden’s McDaniel repeats as SCAC singles champion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

Gov’t pushes air bag maker on replacement parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Fed ends bond buying and cites brighter job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Obituaries

Hardie Lee Doshier

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Howard Lenowsky

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Louis Wright

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10