Hattiesburg man meets birth parents after a decade of searching

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For Douglas Ralson there's always been something missing.

"It's been like a empty little piece of my life that I've wanted to fill and wanted to know who they were," said Ralson.

"They" are his birth parents, a mother and father he's never known but been searching for for the last 10 to 15 years. Now, thanks to a little help from his fiancee and something called the Internet, the search is over.

"A whole bunch of feelings and thoughts go through my head that I can't explain," said Ralson.

"I have my parents. I was raised by my parents. I lost my mom so I have that sense of feeling of knowing what it feels like to have a void," said Ralson fiancee, Irene Cochran.

Douglas and his sister, Stephanie were placed in the Texas foster care system back in 1975 where they stayed about 9 months, before being adopted together by a couple who now lives near Tyler, TX.

"We wasn't in the foster home very long, still young. My sister was 2. I was 9 months, 10 months old," said Ralson.

Douglas, now 36, eventually moved to Hattiesburg, meeting his fiancee, while his sister still lives in Texas. Both of them continued the search for their biological parents, not knowing if they were even alive. Soon, Irene got involved,

"I'm the type of person that if I want to know something," said Cochran. "I just keep digging until I find an answer."

Cochran went online and thanks to a complete stranger was able to get a phone number for Ralson's real mom, who was also looking for him.

"She thought I was joking at first and when I kind of got into the detail of who I was and my name, she realized I was who I said I was and it was a crying time, I'll put it that way," said Ralson.

A few days after that phone call Douglas and his sister were on their way to Arkansas, where his mother now lives.

"It was a relief to know that after a long journey that we found each other, you know," said Ralson.

Ralson's birth parents are now separated, but it didn't stop the good news from coming. Ralson soon got a call from his real father, who now lives in Dallas, but has yet to meet.

"It's been a real big relief, not just finding them, but getting to know them now," said Ralson. "I feel like it's a closure of my life that now mentally and spiritually I can move on."

There were times when Ralson wanted to give up the search, but says thanks to a push here and there he didn't.

"I really didn't expect to find them. What I expected was to keep looking and maybe one day we'd find out what happened to them," said Ralson.

"It's good know that he had a void in his life and now he's got that void filled. He knows. He don't have to wander around not knowing anymore," said Cochran.

"It's a wonderful feeling, it's a wonderful feeling," said Ralson.

This coming Saturday, everyone involved with the story, from both birth parents to the adoptive parents will all meet for the first time in Tyler, TX.

Copyright 2010 WDAM. All rights reserved.