Finding Lost Family Members

Can you help me find my birthmother? The familiar voice of a friend sent my mind racing with that question associated with finding lost family members. Racing back to a time some 13 years earlier when I decided to undertake the task of finding my natural father. My search taught me many things that helped prepare me to assist with the extremely personal and sometimes life changing quest for information about a long lost and voluntarily absent family member.

I could have just said fill out these subject and client intake sheets with the information that you have and we will find her. Many times, these cases are not the typical skip trace variety. I have been there and I am aware of the journey that takes place between “I need to find this person” and “I want to find this person”. That journey is travelled on a bridge of answers to introspective questions.

Many of the jobs that Private Investigators are asked to perform dealing with “family matters” come with the added responsibility of making sure that our clients have thought of the repercussions of our success in delivering what they are asking for. Sure, it seems obvious that our clients have thought this over, but some family issues are so emotional that people seek assistance on a whim. “Is my spouse cheating” can be an easy question for investigators to answer, but can be more than some people really want to know. The gnawing question, though uncomfortable, is sometimes preferred to the pain and suffering that reality can bring.

As I started my own search, questions materialized over time as I contemplated what I would say if I were to successfully find my father. Questions I was unaware early on I wanted the answers to. Questions like, why am I looking for this person? Do I want a personal relationship with this stranger with whom I share DNA? Maybe I just want to know my health history or want to know my “cultural identity”. Perhaps I am I just interested in letting him know that I made it, despite the pain and emptiness of growing up a Fatherless boy. As a point of clarity, I was blessed to have been raised by a Grandfather who was a very strong, positive male role model.

At first I did not have the answers to those questions. I just knew that all my life I had a yearning. That yearning had become a companion that had occupied the void my father’s absence had created. I was more than a little afraid that the reality of knowing answers to my questions would kill the embellished fantasy that ambiguity permitted.

What was I in for? What if I found him and he refused to talk to me? Was I ready to handle the rejection that I had been spared because I was so young when he left? What if he wanted to develop a relationship with me? Would I be willing and able to forgive? Would my mother feel betrayed that I was looking for someone that she feels had abandoned us? What if he is the scoundrel that my mother’s parents believed him to be? So many questions with answers that demand deep deliberation, reflection, and brutal honesty.

Now here I was 13 years after I completed my search. I was asking the questions that I was unsure if my client knew the answers to. I could empathize with the emotions that each of these questions evoked. I was seeking these answers not for my benefit but for my clients.

Written by B. Wigley of Distinctive Investigations