My dilemma is this; I really would like to know if my father was looking for me and was he somehow discouraged to do so. The divorce took place in Florida, not New York, which makes me wonder if that was done to make it seem that we had moved there. I'm somewhat reluctant to contact them, because I don't know if he ever told his new wife about me and his first marriage. He probably did, because while doing my research I spoke to an office worker at the church who knew him as a very nice man.
So do I jump into their lives after all this time? Especially now at Christmas? In my heart I want to know more about my father. I just don't want to disrupt his widow's and daughters' lives.
Here is my two cents worth. While my family situation is not the same as yours, there is some understanding because my son's bio-dad died when he was 18 months old. When I remarried, the bio-Dad's side of the family basically abandoned my son, especially the grandfather. Thus I have some small understanding of your feelings of sorrow and loss.
May I suggest that you put together a New Year's letter to mail to your father's widow? Tell her that you are doing a family tree, are seeking information about your father, and that you learned he had passed away in 1995. Would she be willing to share a few stories about him via telephone, as long as it would not cause her undue grief and sadness.
If she agrees to a telephone call, when you call her be sensitive to her age and sorrow (which I am sure you would be anyway!), and ask her questions like: 1) What is your fondest memory of him? 2) What were some of his favorite things to do? 3) Did he have a favorite sports team, favorite food, favorite vacation spot? You will learn alot by the way she answers the questions. I would suspect with a good listening ear and open heart, you will be able to read between the lines to get a sense of their relationship. If it seems like it was a good relationship, when you conclude the conversation (after about 15 to 30 minutes), ask her for permission to call again. If she agrees, then do so in 3 to 4 weeks. That gives her time to tell her daughters and pastor about the call and process her feelings.
Perhaps you could write a similar letter to the church office worker with a request to speak further with them for input for your family genealogy.
After the first contact you will have a better sense of how to proceed I suspect.
Of course, continue prayers to the Theotokos about this. She is a mother and understands the needs of children to know about their parentage. Perhaps her mother, St. Anna, would be another one to pray to for the same reason.
Listen to your heart. God will guide you.
In Christ, Athanasia (Trudy)