Maybe it’s a Christmas thing, but at Family Detective we often have quite a rush of enquiries at this time of year from people trying to find lost relatives. Some are adopted and want to find their birth parents, others have simply lost touch with siblings or one side of the family because of a divorce or separation.
So, where do you start? Here are a few places to try:
- If you were adopted before 1975 and you wish to find out who your birth parents were you need to apply to the Registrar General for ‘Access to birth records’. Click here for a link to the right website. An appointment will be made for you to speak to a social worker or counsellor who will guide you through the process. This is really important and well worth doing because sometimes getting back in touch with relatives can be a tricky exercise that requires patience and sensitivity. Take advantage of all the help you can get from this free resource.
- Social media sites are surprisingly effective, especially if you are looking for someone with an unusual name. Create a Facebook account (free) to start with and see who you can find!
- Genes Reunited is a specialist website designed to link people up to their family members from the past and the present. You need to pay for an account to start searching members’ trees, but you can sign up for just a month.
- The ‘Public Family Tree’ section of Ancestry can be very useful as you can email the owner of a tree who seems to share your ancestors. Perhaps they are related to you and can put you in touch with other family members?
- ‘BT Find People’ can be surprisingly helpful, if you know where in the country your relatives live – it’s the same information as in the Telephone Directory.
- 192.com offers some free results from a search, but you often have to pay to see addresses and names of other people living in the property. We find it to be quite expensive.
- Find My Past also requires a subscription, but does have a section on all the up-to-date Electoral Registers, so if your relatives has registered to vote, they might be on there.
- Google them. It’s amazing how much information is out there sometimes!
If, after checking all these resources, you still haven’t got anywhere, then you may have to trace your family tree back a couple of generations and then forward again to look for more distant relatives such as cousins. I’ll cover this in a separate blog.
If you do manage to find the people you were looking for, then my best piece of advice is not to rush the process of getting back in touch. Letters may be slower than a phone call or personal visit but they are a lot less shocking and give everyone more time to get used to the idea. Try to be sensitive to the other person’s needs and think about what situation they might be in. Give them some space to get used to the idea of being found.
Discussion: Have you found living relatives and successfully made contact with them? Please tell us how you did it! You can leave a comment by clicking here.