Consider This Before Contacting a Long Lost Relative

Genealogy requires hours of research and dedication. The work pays off when you find more people who can be added to your family tree. DNA testing has, in some ways, sped up the process of finding more relatives. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should rush into trying to make connections with one of them.

Take a DNA test, from whatever company you choose. Your results are going to identify other people, who have taken that same DNA test, and whose results indicate they are related to you. It may feel extremely tempting to immediately reach out to those people. Before contacting a long lost relative, there are some important things to consider.

Amy Dickinson writes the “Ask Amy” advice column on The Washington Post. One of the questions she received came from someone who wanted to contact a long lost relative (whom the person learned about from DNA match results.) The question writer wanted to know if it would be ok to contact that relative.

In this specific case, the relative was a half-sister to the question writer. The relative was born after the question writer’s father, and the relative’s mother, had an affair. The question writer noted that the half-sister was likely unaware of the circumstances of her birth.

In general, it is best to take things slow when contacting relatives who do not know you. Don’t make your first connection a rushed story about what may have been a scandal at the time it occurred. Instead, be friendly. Let the long lost relative know your DNA test matched the two of you. Offer them your contact information, and let them know you would like to keep in touch.

People who want to contact a long lost relative might have high hopes about how that will go. Be prepared for things to go differently than you expected. It is possible that the long lost relative will not want to get to know you at all. That can hurt, especially in situations involving adoption and biological parents.

There is the possibility that the discovery of a long lost relative could result in drama. Other relatives may become emotional. They may refuse to accept the new person as part of their family tree. Or, they may welcome that person with open arms. Every family has its own internal structure, and a new person could shake things up.

This doesn’t mean you should forget about contacting a long lost relative. Instead, it means you need to be aware of the possibilities, and take the time to prepare yourself for whatever may occur.

Related Articles at

* People are More Influenced by Good News on DNA Tests than Bad News

* Unexpected Things You Can Learn From a DNA Test

* Things to Consider Before Taking a DNA Test

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