Saturday, July 26, 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

 
Large party to honor entry into Army

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
 
Crashes snarl Friday traffic on Interstate 80

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Abrams to speak at Democratic Club meet

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: July 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: July 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Share nature’s bounty with others

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
Physical activity may diminish fatigue

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B10, 1 Comment

Weather for Saturday, July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B11

 
.

US / World

Police still investigating after burglar killed

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

 
What happened? The day Flight 17 was downed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US: Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Large Sandy-struck family splits $20M lottery win

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

BART station reopens after reported bomb threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California county sues over subdivision slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Wildfire forces evacuation of rural NorCal homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ex-Bell councilwoman gets 2 years for corruption

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Database details California school employee pay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California state senator facing additional charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Designer: Bay Bridge bolts don’t need replacing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Sheriff: 300 homes burned in Washington wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pelvis pix victims must feel trauma to share $190M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Taiwan plane survivor crawls out, phones dad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Teams converge on remote site to probe plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Former CIA officials can’t see ‘torture’ report

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Same-sex marriage ban struck down for Miami area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Migrants: Obama urges Latin leaders, GOP to help

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

Ebola outbreak spreads to 4th West African country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Opinion

Top 3 ways to impress an employer

By Deon Price | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Immersion kindergarten class in jeopardy

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

Cheers, jeers for the week of July 20-26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History for July 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for July 26, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
I’m not attracted to my husband since he’s gained weight

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

.

Entertainment

Sam Raimi announces planned ‘The Last of Us’ film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Nolan, McConaughey surprise with ‘Interstellar’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Comic-Con gets first look at ‘Mockingjay’ trailer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Bazinga! ‘Big Bang Theory’ writers hit Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Scientists make love, war weapons in ‘Manhattan’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Forces strong during NHRA qualifying at Sonoma Raceway

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield Expos bats come alive in 13-2 win

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

Raiders brimming with optimism at start of camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers ready to fill big void for injured Bowman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Puig, Dodgers go triple-crazy, beat Giants 8-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
7-shot lead for Langer at Senior British Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Furyk, Petrovic, share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
US rebounds to win twice in International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hammel 0-3 for A’s after 4-1 loss to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
With Nibali in command, Tour is about 2nd place

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Marshawn Lynch missing as Seahawks camp begins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Dallas Cowboys LB McClain convicted in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Horsey in halfway lead at Russian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, July 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NASCAR drivers want changes on the schedule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Russian execs fear lasting damage from plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Global tensions don’t dent enthusiasm for stocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Feds probe Dodge Charger alternator complaints

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Towering worry: Small holes cause big jitters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

McNuggets pulled from sale in HK after meat scare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US to evaluate Impala air bag performance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Family feud sparks revolt at grocery store chain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Fast food workers prepare to escalate wage demands

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Orders for US durable goods up 0.7 percent in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Pamela Dixon

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Mary Bell Scrivner Sanders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Arturo Montenegro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Mary Spingola Stagnaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Home Seller 07/26/14

Real estate transactions for July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Citation Northern offers new Madison Lane homes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.13 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2