This blog page is a continuation of my last one. More needs to be said about contacting birth parents and what to expect after you do. I recently watched a TV show called "Long Lost Family" on the cable channel TLC. Apparently this show has been around for years and I had never heard of it. Keep in mind, my opinion of the show is only based on the three episodes I watched. It is about people who were adopted or separated from their families in some way. Using DNA and other research they bring the families together. Very similar to what I do, in fact, I had the same idea for a TV show years ago.
The show is very well done and entertaining. However, it may give people the wrong idea. Each episode I watched concluded with the people finding their long lost families and they all had a happy ending. You should be aware, a happy ending is less likely than a sad one, especially when finding birth parents. The happier stories usually involve people finding a half sibling or cousins they didn’t know about. From my own experiences, I'd say about 30-40% of my findings ended well. Those are still pretty good odds. I’ll share some possible outcomes based on cases I've worked on.
The birth parent stories that end well usually involve a teen pregnancy where the child was given up simply because the mother was too young. Often times, the baby was given up because the girl’s parents made her give up the child. I’ve been involved with cases like that and the mother was thrilled to hear from the child. Keep in mind though, the mother may have kept this a secret her whole life. Contacting her or other family members could reveal things she didn’t want exposed. If you do contact anyone, try to find the birth mother if she is alive and contact her first. If you find her husband, one of her children, or another family member, she may not want them to know she gave up a child.
You should also consider that your birth parents may not be the kind of people you want to meet. I’ve found birth parents who were constantly in trouble or even in prison most of their life. I’ve have found birth parents who were murderers (yeah, I’m not kidding). There are parents who abandoned their children, or had their children taken away from them because of drug use, or other reasons. The worst story I worked on involved a woman who gave birth in her bedroom and tried to kill her baby by throwing her out of a second story window. So, if you think you’ve thought of all possible outcomes, believe me, you have not.
Another thing to watch out for is AFFAIRS. If you find a birth parent, it may result in you exposing an affair to the family. For example, you may discover who your father is, but he was married at the time you were conceived. Do you really think he’ll want to talk to you, or admit you’re his? Not if his wife is still alive and is still with him. I have been asked to contact birth parents for people who are afraid to do so. I’m happy to do it, but this is one area I won’t get involved with if there was an affair. You’re likely to anger a lot of people by exposing it. Find out when the marriage occurred in relation to your birth and then decide what to do.
What about half siblings? I’ve had very good luck with half siblings and other family members. Often times you’ll find out who your birth parent is, but they have passed away. Next, you’ll probably want to find other family members. Maybe you’ve got a half sibling. People often like finding a brother or sister that they never knew existed. Again, be careful here. You might be revealing to the half sibling that their parent had an affair. They are not going to want to hear that their father had a child with another woman while he was married to their mother.
Another problem I’ve encountered involves religious people. For example, I found a half sibling for someone and we looked him up on Facebook and contacted him and his family. These people were extremely religious. Some of the family members were ministers. The person I was helping explained the relationship to them and they didn’t like it one bit. They refused to believe the DNA and said this wasn’t something that could possibly happen in their family. Their strong moral background wouldn’t allow anyone to keep this kind of secret or even allow a secret child to happen in the family. They were quite rude and wanted no further contact.
For some people, "ignorance is bliss." They want life to be as they remember it, not as it really happened. As crazy as it sounds, the truth is not important to everyone. They may not want to hear from you. Keep all these things in mind and use caution before proceeding.
Next we'll look at how many cousins each generation can create.