Delving into descendancy is a good starting point if you’re searching for a long-lost loved one or family member. Check the descendants of any ancestor you find and identify all their offspring until modern times.
Yes, easier said than done. Luckily, you have plenty of resources at your disposal. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with institutions and talk to existing relatives and, if applicable, your adoptive parents. Other tools and resources include ancestry trees, online directories, and obituaries as a last resort. You might find these will reveal previously unknown family lines.
Gathering as many details as possible about your long-lost relative is a crucial step. Write down their job or last place of employment, hobbies, date, and place of birth, and anything else you know. Even likes and dislikes can provide a valuable clue.
Start searching as soon as you’ve done this. Even the vaguest details provided by family members can help get you farther.
Take a DNA Test
There are many specialized services that offer DNA testing today. This can help find biological family members. You will get a database match if your relative also took a test with that service. If not, you’re not likely to, but you might find another relative who has and slowly work your way to the one you were originally looking for. DNA testing has reunited children with their biological parents as well as siblings.
Online Genealogy Services
Family Search, Ancestry, and other online genealogy services can help locate a long-lost family member or discover one you didn’t know existed. Don’t overlook smaller search engines, like Yahoo and Bing. Google isn’t the be-all and end-all of search engines, but it can improve your prospects of success.
Enter any information you have about your lost relative, such as their state or city, occupation, and year of birth.
You might get tired and frustrated in the process of searching for your lost family member. If you’re not getting anywhere, take a break and try again a few days later.
Social Networks and Niche Sites
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks can help track down long-lost friends or family. You can search based on their last known workplace, high school, hometown, or through other friends or relatives. Check Facebook groups of people from high schools, colleges, churches, foundations, etc.
There are niche sites for relatives, friends, businesspeople, etc. These are also worth a shot. Think about their hobbies or interests or the kind of place where they could be. One example of a niche site for networking is BatchMates. It has members from all over the world. You can search for people by company, name, city, state, and more. You can message people for free on it, which is recommended if you find someone who you think might be them or related to them.
Search Public Records
To do this, all you need is the person’s first and last name. Of course, the more information you have, the better. You could even get their address if you have their place of birth. Look for marriage and divorce records, certificates of a name change, and perhaps a criminal record.
The main health statistics organization in the US is the National Center for Health Statistics. Contact them for the most in-depth public record search. Your state’s health statistics service can also be a valuable source.
If you try all the suggestions in this article, you’ll probably get lucky. Eventually, you’ll find your long-lost family member. Will it be a happy reunion? It’s hard to say in advance. You might find they didn’t want to be contacted. A match on a DNA test won’t necessarily provide closure. The reunion might be disappointing.
Don’t let that stop you from trying, though. Your family member might be as surprised to get a message from you as you will be to find them. It could be the nicest surprise of both of your lives.