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People, Places & Perspectives View From Here;   Story by Kelli McAllister

Netting a Father
Article from December 11-18, 1997 Ventura County Reporter
(original article had additional details and has been corrected here for accuracy )

    The Internet-what a tool. You can find that exotic wildebeest recipe or the complete filmography of Adrienne Barbeau. You may even be able to find your father, whom you haven't seen in more than three decades.
    As a child, Oxnard resident Kristin Olsen-Alls never gave much thought to the man who gave her life.
    Her mother's subjective (and less-than-accurate) portrait of Daddy as a no-good scoundrel, was all Olsen-Alls needed to leave well enough alone. But she never entirely forgot the mystery of her missing parent.
    "I wondered about it off and on over the years", she said "and then when I hit my late 20's, I decided to see if I could find him".
    With no birth date, no hometown, no middle name, no pictures, and an uncooperative mother, chances of finding him appeared slim. Olsen-Alls had only two pieces of information: a partial name, Wilhelm Olsen, and the knowledge he was born somewhere in Norway. With so little to go on, her inquiries to the Danish and Norwegian consulates yielded nothing.
   Enter our tale's twin heroes, the aforementioned Internet, and Kristin's new husband, Ben Alls, who had launched his own computer consulting firm in 1994, shortly before meeting Kristin. Romance blossomed, and she joined him in his business the following year. In 1996, the two married and moved into Kristin's mother's house (to help her and Kristin's grandmother who were both ill). There, among her mother's documents, Olsen-Alls encountered some new information vital to her search.
    "I found an envelope stuffed full of papers about my father", she said. "Letters, documents, address and other important information.
    Kristin learned her father was born in Kristiansand, Norway. She now had his birth date, and discovered, to her surprise, she had siblings.
    Ben recognized the unresolved family conflict within his new bride. He encouraged her to renew the search for her dad.
    Early in 1996, Kristin began e-mailing anyone faintly relevant to her search. Approximately seven moths later, she met a Norwegian named Stig, who led her to a cousin, Jan, who in turn led Kristin to another cousin, Ellen. It was Ellen who provided the critical link, revealing that Kristin's father Wilhelm spent half the year in Denmark and the other half in Spain. Ellen didn't know Wilhelm's Danish address, but she gave Kristin his phone number and address in Spain.
    "I e-mailed, and I called, and I sent letters, and I got no response", Kristin said. "Finally I sent one last letter to Spain".
    One week later- about eight months after meeting Stig- Kristin's father called from Spain. He explained that he hadn't been at his Spanish home, and was unaware of Kristin's prior, frustrated attempts to contact him.
    Kristin tried her best to get acquainted with her newfound father by telephone. After several months, she and Ben packed up their three children last June and journeyed to Denmark to meet Wilhelm in person. The timing was especially Poignant.
    Their initial reunion was predictably joyous, but Kristin's long search would end somewhat ambivalently. Her father had seemed pleasant and likable on the phone, but in person Kristin came to share some of her mother's perspective.
    "I have a half-sister that I met over there, Tanya", Kristin said. "I have another half-sister, Brenda, in Florida, whom we're going to meet next summer. And there's another half-sister in Germany, but I haven't met her yet".
    Still, Kristin has no regrets about tracking down her dad. "He is extremely intelligent, and he is also extremely family-oriented", she said. "He's been married for many years now to a wonderful woman...He will do anything in the world for his family members".
    Kristin and her dad still chat regularly two or three times a month, and Wilhelm sends his grandchildren birthday cards and holiday greetings at every opportunity. Depending upon the state of Wilhelm's dwindling health, Kristin's oldest son is planning to stay with his granddad in Spain for several months next winter.
    "I now have sisters and family, and I'll do anything in the world to help them". Kristin said. "Everything that I had to go through to get here- including the cost of having to go to Denmark- was well worth it".
    Ironically, Kristin learned her father and two sisters had previously tried to find her, getting as far as Oxnard before his leads evaporated.
    "My mom's phone number is unlisted, her address is unlisted, I got married so I was no longer and Olsen. But they got really close to finding me", she said.
    The experience Kristin gained in her quest to discover her father has instilled in her an unexpected and lingering interest in genealogy. She's traced Ben's lineage all the way back to 1600 A.D., and shares her time and expertise with others looking for family members.
    "I've helped two people find their parents, and it felt really good", she said.


Follow Up Information since this article was written:

Kristin keeps in touch with her dad and two of her sisters, Brenda and Tanya.  Kristin and the family drove from CA to FL to meet Brenda and her child.  Her dad, his wife Ase, her sister Tanya and Tanya's boyfriend Henrik flew over from Denmark, so it was a huge family reunion.  Tanya and Henrik drove back to CA with Kristin and the Family. 

Kristin, Ben and the youngest Zak flew to Denmark in April 2002 to see her dad and sister Brenda and her two girls.  Tanya had previously moved to Australia with Henrik.  The trip was great and was combined with a buying trip for Celtic Attic.  The reunion was wonderful!

Kristin has still to find the third sister in Germany and to find her way to the homeland of Kristiansand, Norway, but no hope is lost.  All will happen in due time.

IF you look for someone and find them, accept them unconditionally!  Remember, you are the one that searched them out and you must have patience, love and acceptance.  All things have a reason...

Update as of December, 2003.  Kristin is still in touch with her sisters and step-mother, Ase.  They saw each other in for the last time in 2002, but exchange cards and telephone calls regularly.  Wilhelm died very suddenly on December 3rd, 2003.  While this is terribly sad and painful, it is a blessing that they were ever reunited and a lifetime of memories were fulfilled in a few short years.  Never look back, only ahead.

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