Saturday, April 18, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

 
 
Child care program helps teen parents, students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Wood students entertain guests at Epcot

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A2

 
 
 
Solano County Science Fair continues to grow

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Family awarded rights to rare coins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
Dog flu outbreak sweeps across the Midwest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
AG announces anti-bias training program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Iraqi officials believe Saddam’s top deputy killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Germany mourns citizens lost in plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Following Alps crash, debate over pilotless planes heats up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Time for meaningful financial reform

By Paul A. Volcker | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in history: Saturday, April 18, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 18, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My daughter is upset that I didn’t attend my former in-law’s funeral

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Idea from Adam Sandler film used to soothe dementia patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

.

Sports

Prep softball: Seldon powers Rodriguez to victory over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
JC baseball: Falcons win as Pavlovsky, Evans homer

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep badminton: Mustangs roll to 15-0 win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Prep baseball: Haney hurls Vanden to 3-2 win over Benicia

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Armijo nears girls soccer title with 2-0 MEL win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
SCAC girls roll past MEL 55-28 in All-Star hoops game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

SCAC boys slip past MEL in entertaining All-Star game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Athletics fall to Royals 6-4 in rematch of AL wild-card game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors, Pelicans enter series with different pedigrees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Big Ten’s Delany lays out plan for freshman ineligibility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Collmenter shuts down Giants, gets three hits in D-backs win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Merritt’s 61 trumps Masters champion Spieth’s 62

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
2 minor league baseball teams to test game with 5-pitch rule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA could alter schedule, but no change to playoffs, lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Coonan stepping down as Santa Clara’s athletic director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he “let down” fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers fullback Miller at home in Georgia after March arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockhold hopes win over Machida launches him into contention

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Martina Hingis to make singles comeback in Fed Cup match

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Injured Giants fan throws out first ball in San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after 2 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hornets GM Cho: Stephenson ‘didn’t work like we expected’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Brazil eyes historic medal haul in 2016 Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
2 weeks before Mayweather-Pacquiao, not a ticket to be seen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Before ruling out an upset in NBA East, listen to these guys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Western Conference teams face perilous path to NBA Finals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Back on the USA Network: Sports return with NHL playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Frederick’s of Hollywood reveals closing of retail stores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Don’t plan to line up for Apple Watch next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 4 Comments

 
California home prices hit new 7-year high, sales rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Douglas Craig Sparks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7