This article will cover the following topic Reconnecting With Long Lost Family.
There are lots of reasons why you might have lost touch with family members, but it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. It’s natural to begin to wonder what they’re doing, and whether there’s any way to contact them again.
Maybe you want closure on the past or perhaps you’re hoping to reconnect; whatever the reason there are ways to get back in touch with long lost family – and it might be easier than you think.
Here are 6 tips to bear in mind when you’re looking for your family, and when you’ve found them again.
Try the Obvious Routes First
If you’ve not been in contact with certain family members for some time, it’s natural to assume that no one else knows anything about them either. However, there may be other family or friends who have more of an idea of their whereabouts, even if you don’t realise it.
Therefore, the very first step is to search through the contacts you have to check if there’s anything they know. Even if they’re not in direct contact, they may have more up to date information than you. Whether it’s a last known address or whispers about things that may have happened in their life, such as getting married or divorced, it all helps.
Even if you’re absolutely certain that others don’t know anything, it’s a good idea to get everything you can so you can crosscheck the facts. One person may have inadvertently been given a new address, or a later phone number might pop up; it only takes the smallest detail to unravel the mystery of their location.
Call in the Professionals
Once you have all the available information, you could spend some time trying to track down leads to find your missing family members. This can be very time-consuming and frustrating, especially if you don’t have access to all the databases you need. In some cases, you’ll have information but won’t know what to do with it next!
Rather than wasting more time, it’s a good idea to get professional help at this point. We’ve helped many people find family members that they’ve lost touch with. By checking multiple industry data sources we are often able to find family members, even with very little information to go on.
Once we find the missing person, we’ll share the information with you (subject to consent compliance GDPR), providing full transparency. This allows you the freedom to decide what you want to do next.
Don’t Rush In
Once you have the contact information for your family members, you may be tempted to rush in and reconnect right away. However, in many cases there was a reason that contact was lost so it’s usually better to proceed more cautiously.
Getting in touch remotely, via text or email, is often a good start. This means you won’t be overwhelming the individual with the surprise contact, and they have the time and space to consider how they want to respond. People can often act in ways that they later regret when they’re taken by surprise, which is why a slow and gentle approach is usually recommended.
Reconnecting with family should be a positive experience for all concerned, even if you previously parted on bad terms. Giving everyone concerned the space to move forward in a way that they’re comfortable with ensures that no one’s feelings get trampled in the process.
Many people may have lost contact with a family member because of difficult circumstances, or a disagreement. Pretending this isn’t the case doesn’t really help anyone. If you want to heal from the past and reconnect in a meaningful way, it’s important, to be honest about what’s happened.
This doesn’t mean that you need to rake over painful events or go into details about the reasons why you lost contact. But rather than leaving the unspoken elephant in the room hanging over your communication, addressing it quickly, swiftly and unemotionally can help you all to move past previous events.
A simple acknowledgement such as “I know we’ve had our differences…” or “I realise we’ve had a difficult past…” shows that you’re not getting in touch simply to linger on what’s gone on and that you’re not intent on harbouring ill will.
Another top tip is to share the reasons that you wanted to reach out to them. You may want to say something like, “I know we fell out last time we spoke but I really miss you being in my life.” Or you could offer a more specific explanation if there’s a trigger to you getting in touch, “I’ve got a son now and I’d really like him to have the chance to get to know his grandparents”
Being honest about your motives while showing that you’re keen to move on is a good way to encourage positive communication.
Share Personal Information
Your life will have probably moved on significantly since you last spoke to your long lost family members. This may be instrumental in the reasons why you decided to try and track them down. Sharing information about your life might encourage reluctant family members to reconnect, even if they have reservations.
If your past relationship was especially fraught, your family may be unsure whether getting in touch is a good idea. You may find that your first text or email is ignored. Some people may be more inclined to let sleeping dogs lie, rather than risk stirring up painful emotions.
Giving information about your life now encourages them to see that things are different, and may make them curious about how your world has changed. Sharing news subtly changes the focus from the past to the future, especially if you ask about their life too.
What you want to share depends on your history, but if you’ve had any significant life events such as getting married, having children or moving to a new place, this could be a helpful start.
Give Them Space
You may have been considering tracking down your missing family for some time; this means you’ve had time to get used to the idea. While the search is going on, you’ll be able to think about what you want to say and how you’ll approach the situation.
Getting contacted out of the blue can be difficult for some people and they may blank you completely. Don’t respond by bombarding them with messages via every channel you can think of. If you crowd them, the chances are that the outcome won’t be good. If they don’t respond enthusiastically right away, just allow them a little time to get used to the idea.
It’s perfectly fine to send a follow-up message, just to give them a little nudge. This may even help to show them that you really do want to heal the relationship. Don’t send this follow-up too quickly, and make sure the wording is gentle and non-confrontational. Even if you feel frustrated, allowing your feelings to spill over in a passive-aggressive way will never help.
Everyone processes things in their own time, and of course, there’s a chance that your family may not be willing to reconnect. But even that knowledge can bring peace and closure, as you’ll know you’ve done everything you can.
Patience is the key to a successful reunion and a commitment to leaving the past firmly in the past.
Useful support information can also be found at StandAlone
StandAlone support people who are estranged from their family or children.
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