Whether you are a birth parent or family member, adoptive parent, or someone who was adopted, there is a myriad of emotions that go into the search. You have made it so far and have the information you hoped for: a name, a phone number, and address, a Facebook contact, or some other piece of contact information. Now it is up to you to choose the best way to initiate the first contact to pursue an adoption reunion. Here are some ways you can establish a contact in a non-threatening way:

1. Adoption Agency

If you have information regarding the agency that completed the adoption, you should start by contacting them to assist in the reunion. Often they play a pivotal role in helping individuals find their birth family members, having access to identifying and non-identifying information on all parties. Adoption agencies can be beneficial in helping to locate and establish contact with both parties in a non-threatening way since they originally facilitated the completion of the adoption.

2. Confidential Intermediaries

Confidential Intermediaries are certified by the court to have access to sealed adoption records for the sole purpose of obtaining both parties’ consent for contact during a search and reunion. Currently, 10 states provide confidential intermediaries, though they can be difficult to find and utilize. These 10 states include Alabama (when consent is not on file), Colorado, Florida (to contact family members who have not registered with the adoption registry), Illinois (to obtain updated medical information), Michigan (when consent is not on file), Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

3. Adoption Registries

Adoption reunion registries can be a great place to establish a contact in a non-threatening way. Initiating contact through an online registry database allows the other party in the adoption to establish a contact in their own time and with consent. It gives each family member time to process their emotions and proceed when ready. Adoption.com’s Adoption Reunion Registry is a great place to start.

4. Private Investigators

My company, Trustify, believes strongly in two-party consent in adoption reunion cases. Individuals regularly utilize our services to search and be reunited with their birth family members. Our private investigators initiate contact with the person of interest in a very non-threatening way, allowing the individual time to process their emotions and give consent before a reunion. A private investigator can share your tailored desires and message with the person for whom you are searching so your thoughts and wishes are conveyed. Adoption.com also has adoption detectives you can hire to facilitate the search and reunion.

5. Social Media

Today we have access to dozens of social media platforms that can facilitate the initial contact with a birth family member in a non-threatening way. Once you have their identifying information, it can be easy to locate someone through social media. Private detectives can also easily find the correct family members through this means so you know you are reaching out to the correct individual. Once confirmed, sending a private message through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat is an easy way to allow them to respond in their own time. Many social media platforms have the added benefit of confirming the other party has received or “read” your message.

6. The Old-Fashioned Way

If you have an email address, home address, or phone number, you can easily reach out to the person with whom you wish to connect in a non-threatening manner. If you have their address you can send them a handwritten letter. Refrain from sending pictures at first, as it may be emotionally overwhelming just to receive your written words. If you have a phone number, you can try texting first to again give the other individual the ability to respond in their own time.

There is no wrong or right way to complete the search process by initiating contact if you are sensitive to allowing the other person to respond in their own time. There were many emotions involved in this process for you and it likely took some time (figuratively and literally) for you to get here. Give your birth family member space to process this new information in what will likely be a much shorter time frame than you had. Starting the reunion off on the right foot gives both of you the ability to reach the end of this long road and start the new journey ahead with sensitivity and compassion for each other.