Things You Can Do When You Find Your Birth Family

"Where do I go from here?"

Jennifer Mellon September 30, 2017
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So, you have found your birth family. The journey to get to this point may have been a long time coming, or maybe you have just recently decided you would like to find more information on your birth family. You are not alone.

As the Founder of a technology platform connecting clients to private investigators and as the former Executive Director of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, I have connected with thousands of individuals searching for biological family members and many after they have found their birth parents or siblings. Once you have identified and found your birth parent(s), you may wonder, “Where do I go from here?” Establishing the various options you have after finding who your birth family is will be helpful in making decisions regarding next steps.

Confirm Their Identity and Contact Information

You may have received confirmation of your birth mother through your original birth certificate, the help of an adoption detective, or an online reunion registry. Using a search professional like an adoption detective or licensed private investigator, you will have confirmation and peace of mind that the biological family member contacted will be who you believe them to be.  If you found each other through other means like a reunion registry or social media, utilizing a professional to confirm their identity will save a great deal of heartache if they are fraudulently leading you to believe they are your family. You may also use these licensed professionals to ensure the contact information you found is current and accurate.

Decide What You Will Say

It helps to decide what you will say before you contact your birth parent. You may want to choose the best course for you – whether it be by phone, social media, email, or letter. Most professionals agree that an unannounced visit may not be the best course of action, as your birth parent may react better when given some time to digest the information that they have been found by you. Many experts believe a letter is the best way to gently reach out and offer options for your birth family member to contact you when they are willing and ready.

Decide on the Desired Outcome

Deciding what outcome you want from your search is also critical. You may have started this process with a simple desire for medical records which has now evolved to a desire for a reunion. Maybe you dreamed of meeting your birth family, but this search has lead you to only want a photo or identifying information at this time. Wherever you are in the process, that is okay. There is no right or wrong way to reach out after you find your birth family.  What you wish for today may also change. Be open to the journey changing course for you as you take each step in the reunion process.

Find a Community of Support

It helps to know you are not alone. Utilizing a support group online or in person or a therapist to work through your feelings during this time can be incredibly beneficial. Adoption.com has wonderful adoption forums where you can discuss your situation with others who are also going through or have been through the search and reunion process. Knowing you are not alone and getting advice from others can be helpful in determining your own next steps.

Need some help with your adoption search? Adoption Detectives may be able to help! Learn more.

Additional adoption training is available at the the new adoption information website.

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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