Missing a family member is never easy, especially with the holidays approaching. Maybe it’s a long lost family member that you continuously hear about, or perhaps you’ve heard of a few cousins that seemingly disappeared overnight a few years ago. Finding these family members is enriching and rewarding, but the search can be an adventure you never intended. When you’re trying to find a relative, tracking them down is the first step in rebuilding your relationship.
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Start with Google Search
Google isn’t just for finding random facts online; you can search for people too. Simply type in their name and see what results come up. If that doesn’t turn up the results you wanted, try adding identifying information to your search results. This might include the state of residence, date of birth, or even their employer.
Although this method is the easiest for starting your search, the results can be hit or miss. You may find a few relevant articles or news pieces, articles, or social media accounts, but that may not prove reliable or current.
If you happen to have multiple networks or contacts, reaching out can be a valuable asset. This is particularly true if your family is still connected to the family member. Ask local connections like alumni, groups, or affiliations if they have any valuable information to help connect you to your family member. Make sure to approach this topic delicately; some individuals may not be receptive to reconnecting.
Social Media Accounts
Research has shown that Facebook is the most popular social media platform, holding 2.7 billion active users. Using Facebook search, groups, pages, and location settings, you can quickly find relevant results on the site. You can also search through LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or other active social media platforms. Unfortunately, your search results will only be successful if the family member has an active profile and appropriate privacy settings.
Run a Background Check
One of the most effective ways to track down a missing relative is with a professional background check. These reports will often include contact information about your missing relevant, including phone numbers and last known addresses. A background check will use identifying information to search through public data to develop a customized report. This might include social media profiles, contact information, criminal records, and close relatives.
Valuable Information to Include in Your Search
One of the first items you’ll need to find a long lost family member is the proper spelling of their name. This might include any nicknames, proper spelling, maiden names, or married names. You’ll also want to find the last known residential address, even if it’s not a current location. An address can help establish a connection to the individual, which will improve your chances of reconnecting.
These addresses will pull a file through credit reports, online accounts, or other local associations. Any known phone numbers will help you connect to an account. Phone records are often considered a public record which will pull the name and address on file.
Reaching Out to Family
Contacting family members about the relative may be a touchy subject. Without knowing the complete history of the relationship, asking for current details could lead to hurt feelings and emotional upheaval. It’s always a wise idea to proceed carefully, starting with an introductory conversation and explaining why you’d like to re-establish contact.
Ask family members if they have any current communication with the family member and how you could reach them. If there is family conflict, avoid the conversation or ease people into the idea slowly.
Things to Consider When Reconnecting
While you’re trying to locate family members, it’s important to remember some people may not be receptive to your communication. Some people have wanted to disappear for valid reasons. These reasons may be personal conflict, abuse, high-conflict relationships, or emotional upheaval. Although you may not be responsible for this emotional abuse, there may be concern about rebuilding communication channels.
Always approach long lost family member with caution and be respectful of their distance. Any response you receive needs to be carefully considered. Likewise, a lack of response shouldn’t be taken personally. There may be an absence of communication after your initial contact. Before showing up at their residence, always reach out through other channels first. Email, text messages, phone calls, or direct messaging are all acceptable first contact methods when you don’t know how the message will be received.
Explain who you are, your connection to the individual, and why you’re reaching out. If there’s any known conflict, you can address it quickly or leave that for an in-person conversation. Should the disagreement potentially limit the communication, always opt to bring it up briefly and acknowledge the hurt they might have. Emotional pain can influence the reconnection; bringing it up from the first contact is an excellent way to heal old wounds.
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