Tips on Finding Long-Lost Family Members

If you do not have much family to speak of, or are in a situation such as having been adopted and you have not been able to find your parents, you might be wondering if you have any blood relatives, and if so, if you can find them and what they are like. With how technology has evolved, you can most certainly try to track your loved ones down. However, you may not know where to start, and that is understandable. Keep reading for tips on finding those long-lost family members so you can plan your search accordingly.

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Gather Any Family Documents That You Can

Every journey has to start somewhere, and while this step might seem as boring and frustrating as it most likely will be, it is absolutely necessary. Start with any of your important documents, such as your social security card, birth certificate, and anything related to them. Then begin collecting important documents related to your family, including the following:

  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Deeds
  • Photographs
  • Yearbooks
  • Journals

Gather as many of these as you can, and organize them by generation and by date. Also consider organizing them based on whether the relatives that the documents pertain to come from your father’s side or your mother’s side. If you have no family documents, try to at least get some names to aid your search. Even a story about someone may lead to success if you get enough accurate details.

Begin an Online Search

Depending on what you have available to you in the way of family lineage, you may have a lot of success if you want to try to find people online. If you want to try to find people on a website that just tracks family trees, you will need quite a bit of documentation to get anywhere significant. They will ask you questions about your mother and father, and possibly your grandparents and great-grandparents. From there, if anything has been provided to the website via public records or other family members plugging information in, you will be able to learn more about your unknown family than you ever thought possible. 

If you are not able to provide that much information and have more names and stories than physical records, you might want to look into sites that specialize in locating specific people. For that, you need the person’s name at the very least. Ideally, you also want their last known location and their age, because more likely than not, the name you are searching for will populate many results and you need to be able to determine which one is the right one. Sometimes the search results will come with names of people that the person is related to, and if you recognize one of the populated names, that person is more likely to be the one that you are looking for.

For most of these sites, you will have to pay to get anything beyond basic information. If you are looking for multiple people, those charges will add up fast, as a fee is usually charged per person that you want to track down. If you are willing to shell money out in order to find your loved ones, and you have a ton of people that you want to track down, make sure you know exactly how much you need to pay and have a spot in your budget specifically for doing that.

Write Letters

If you know the addresses of the people that you are searching for, you might be able to write a letter to the person, if you are feeling brave. In the letter, start by introducing yourself and give a brief explanation as to why you are writing the letter. It does not have to be detailed, as you are just reaching out, but it is advised to let them know how you might be related to them.

Writing letters by hand will be noticed more than typed letters, especially since not many people receive them these days. However, do not write the letter expecting a response. The relative you are looking for might have changed addresses or might have passed away, so if you do not hear anything back, please do not be discouraged. 

Tracking down relatives can be a lengthy process, and you have no idea what you will find along the way. Keep these tips in mind as you start your search so you have an easier time of it and will be able to keep searching.

Marie Foster
Marie Foster
Marie Foster is a reporter based in UK. Marie has also worked as a columnist for the various news sites.

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