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Happy ending: Father-daughter connect for first time

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Erika Frikken, right, tracked down her birth father, Aaron Marshall, above, through the Internet after 26 years. They've talked on the phone and plan to meet in person soon.2 / 2

Since she was young, Erika Frikken had wanted to find her birth father. Her mother chose to let her pursue the search after she turned 18. Now at age 26, the Elbow Lake woman has finally found him.

About a week ago, Aaron Marshall was notified that someone had posted a message for him on the Internet search site Zabasearch, telling him he had a daughter he never knew about and that she wanted to meet him.

Not positive about what to do, he replied to the message and then contacted the Detroit Lakes Police Department and the Detroit Lakes Newspapers to speed up the process of finding his daughter. The message on the Zabasearch said the woman was from Detroit Lakes.

Frikken said she doesn't know how that got on there, because she's never lived in Detroit Lakes, but regardless, they've found each other.

"I've always wanted to look (for her birth father), but we didn't actively pursue it until I was 19 or 20," she said.

She and her mom searched 800-people, the Internet and did some cold calling. They knew Marshall had served on the Georgia Air Force Base, so they tried all avenues there, too. For years, they found nothing.

Two years ago, Frikken's mother posted the request for Marshall on the Zabasearch site. When he replied last week, a notice was sent to her and she got in contact with Marshall.

Marshall said he didn't have any idea how long it would take for his response to get to his daughter though.

"I think the site automatically notifies her when someone responds to her request. So, she responded to me and I thought it was her, I just wanted to make sure," he said. Marshall lives in Virginia now.

When Erika Frikken found out her birth father had been found, she said she was shocked, like it still isn't true.

"It was kind of disbelief, I think," she said. "More like shock -- (an) I didn't think it would ever happen type of thing. So I was just like, 'Really?'

"It still really hasn't hit me because I haven't met him yet."

The two do have plans to meet in the future, although they haven't set a date yet. In the meantime, they have talked on the phone several times.

"We're trying to make arrangements to see each other, trying to wait until y'all thaw out a bit. It's cold up there," he said with a laugh.

"I'm real excited about this, I really am," he added about finding out he has a daughter. "They were a little concerned I think, not knowing what my response would be. I don't know why they would think I wouldn't want to know about it, but family's important to me.

"I saw her picture and knew right away that was my daughter."

Marshall has two other daughters from a marriage, and he said he's gotten to introduce Frikken via telephone to her two sisters, which she didn't know she had either.

"Everybody is excited, just looking forward to meeting in person," he said.

As for her search, Frikken said, "It's just pretty miraculous I think. If there's a will, there's a way, I guess."