In our individualistic society, sometimes family members lose touch for a number of reasons. Maybe you have a cousin who moved away to another continent when you were little; maybe there was an argument in your family or a bad divorce. Some people are even looking for their biological parents or a twin they were separated at birth from. It’s only normal to wonder what happened to these people over the years.
Reconnecting with lost relatives can be a difficult process, but today we have an array of tools at our disposal. From doing a simple web search to taking a DNA test, all you need is some spare time and a lot of motivation! Here is a practical guide to help you find whoever you are looking for:
1. Take an Ancestry DNA Test
Nowadays, everyone can take a DNA test at an affordable price and get the results back in weeks. Most of the ancestry DNA tests can show you where your family came from, how much percentage of different nationalities you have, and also help you find someone you are biologically related to. To find a lost relative, both of you need to do the DNA test with the same company. Even if this specific person hasn’t done DNA testing, maybe a close relative of theirs has. Most of the time you will discover distant cousins you never knew about, but sometimes you might even find a first cousin. Some people were able to reconnect with their biological parents, unknown siblings or discover who their biological father is. The advantage of this method is that you don’t need to know anything about the person you are looking for, such as where they live or what their name is. You simply need to take the DNA test and wait for your results to come back.
2. Gather as Much Information as Possible
Before you start your search, make sure you put some effort into gathering as much information as possible. Try to remember details about their personality, hobbies, where they were born, the date of birth, and who their friends were, Write down everything you know about them and speak to other family members to get more details from them. Inquire about any known previous address, employment history, education history, names of their husband or wife or any children they had. The more you know, the easier it will be to find them. However, if you don’t remember much, don’t discourage, even with a minimum amount of information you still have a chance to find your lost relative. As soon as you have all the information, start your search.
3. Use a Search Engine
The first thing you can do is search the internet using a search engine. Try using one of the most popular ones such as Google. Try typing in their names, occupation, the university where they went, or their spouse’s name. If nothing comes up, enter different combinations of the information you have, such as name and college, name and company where they used to work for, name and place of birth or last known address, name and profession, profession and place of birth. Even if nothing turns up, don’t get discouraged and keep searching. Even if nothing comes up on the first result, maybe something will when they get a new job or a new address.
4. Use a Genealogy Website
Some genealogy websites provide access to records that can help you find lost relatives and build a family tree. Genealogy websites use data from thousands of sources ranging from census records, birth or death certificates, newspaper articles, and others. However, these sources are not 100% certain, but they do show some results. Some of them even merge family trees from the millions of users who contribute to them. If you are lucky, you could discover your lineage going back hundreds of years.
5. Search Social Media Websites
Social media has millions of users all over the world, making it a great place to search for lost relatives. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter are some of the best sites to take a look at. Try typing in different variations of the person’s first, last and middle name, and even nicknames. Facebook has one search option where it even allows you to select the city of the person you are trying to find. So for example, if you are looking for someone but you only know the first and middle name, you can narrow down the search by choosing the city where they live in. If nothing comes up, try less obvious websites such as Pinterest, YouTube, Google +, MySpace, Reddit, and Tumblr.
You can even make a viral post and ask your friends to share it in the hope it gets to the person you are searching for. Some people don’t have a social media account, but maybe their friends will see the post and let them know.