1. Archive

A Father's Day gift: Son finds father he lost

James Breckenridge Carter thought his son was dead.

For 43 years, Carter wondered what had happened to his two children after he and his wife divorced in Massachusetts.

Today, on Father's Day, he finally has the answer.

Carter, 74, opened an envelope last week to discover a Father's Day card from his son in Phoenix.

Steve Voorhees, 44, whose name was changed after his maternal grandmother adopted him, had tracked down his father with a home computer.

"I couldn't believe that I was hearing from him," Carter said Saturday. "He wrote a beautiful letter and wanted to see me."

He phoned his son, and they talked for nearly 40 minutes. They're planning to meet Aug. 1 when Voorhees comes to Florida.

"He wants to hear all of my experiences. He wants to be able to know about me," said Carter, a retired electrician. "I'd like to know about him. Just what he'll tell me is what I will know because I was cut off from him when he was just a baby.

"I'm so glad he can know, on Father's Day, that he has a father," Carter added.

Voorhees said Saturday he had hesitated to send the card _ his first ever for Father's Day _ because he had no way of predicting the reaction.

"I feel like I just had a father," Voorhees said. "Maybe I should give out cigars. . . . For the first time, I feel like a whole person."

Voorhees said his parents separated in 1950 when he was 1 year old. His sister, Bess, who now lives in Venice, Fla., was about 4 years old. Their mother died about five years later, and they were adopted and raised by their grandmother.

"She hated my dad, so we were never encouraged to discuss him," Voorhees said.

Recently, Voorhees said he got the urge to locate his long-lost father. He used an information service that came with his personal computer to search a genealogy bulletin board.

The program allows users to track information by using sources such as military records, death certificates and drivers' licenses. Users also can communicate with others signed onto the system, seeking information from throughout the country.

With his program and the help of three other people, Voorhees said he found his father's birth certificate. Then he found his dad's most recent address, thanks to another computer user who had access to driver's license records.

Voorhees, who has no children, said he sent his first Father's Day card "with a lot of reservations. . . . I didn't even know if he was alive or if he even cared."

"Maybe now," the card read, "we could make some time to get together as father and son, and I want us to have the chance to get to know each other better and make up for lost time."

Carter said he nearly threw away the Father's Day card, thinking it was an advertisement. Once he opened it, he thought it was a prank or a scam. But he called Voorhees anyway and wound up having a 40-minute telephone conversation.

The last time they were together, his son had curly hair and was barely talking and walking. Now a city bus driver, Voorhees and his father share the same features.

"We're both bald," Carter said.

Voorhees, who said he would call his father again today, said he plans to videotape their reunion Aug. 1.

He also plans to bring along a baseball.

"And we're going to throw it," he said. "I want to say I played catch with my dad."

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.