Have you ever wondered how many boughs your family tree has? Most have just two, and those with three and more are pretty rare.
And if bough has several offshoots, you most probably have got relatives out there that you know nothing about.
Why Is It Important to Know Your Living Relatives?
Most people know their aunts and uncles and, probably, most of their cousins. However, it is essential to know how many living relatives you have and where they are. Here is why.
You have a vivid childhood memory of a favorite uncle who, for some reason, has distanced himself from the rest of the family over the years. You may want to find his current whereabouts and restart your relationship.
2. The long-lost heir
You may want to know how many heirs and heiresses to the family fortune there are. It is usually as will attorney’s job to track them down, but you can save a bit of the family’s wealth by assuming their responsibilities.
3. You want to make a will
Regardless of your age, you may want to prepare your will for when your time comes. It makes no sense to mention a relative in it without knowing where they are and if they are still alive.
More importantly, you may want to know how many living relatives you have so as to properly distribute your assets among them.
Simple Tips to Find Long-lost & Unknown Relatives
There are two types of relatives you may wish to track down: ones that you lost connection with long ago and ones you know nothing about. Let’s start with the latter.
How to Find Unknown Relatives
There are several approaches to this situation: either another family member has told you of a distant relative’s existence, or you would like to know if you’ve got any half-siblings from your mom’s or dad’s past relationships. Or, you have grown up in a foster family and want to search for your biological parents.
1. Take a DNA test
If you don’t know if you have relatives, you can’t use a search engine that finds people. You just don’t have any personal details to feed into the engine.
Instead, you should take an autosomal DNA test with several of the biggest DNA testing companies in the USA. In a nutshell, autosomes are chromosomes that we share with our close and distant relatives.
2. Be patient
Once your DNA sample is in the database, you’ll have to check for possible matches day after day. Some searchers are lucky to find a half-sibling after the second search;others spend years searching for their biological parents without success.
3. Make a contact
Even if a first or second-cousin match has appeared in the national DNA database, you can only contact them via the DNA testing site’s message system.
If you are lucky, you may get an encouraging reply, but you should be prepared for a situation where they don’t want to be contacted or your messages are ignored.
4. Collect information
If you are lucky enough to find a first or second cousin who’d like to communicate with you, you can ask them about their aunts and uncles, who may be your biological parents.
In the best possible case, they’ll connect you to them, and you’ll be able to ask them in person. If that’s not possible, the newly-found cousin may ask their aunt or uncle to provide a DNA sample that you can compare to yours.
How to Find Long-Lost Relatives?
After you have used the DNA database to find a distant cousin who has, in turn, given you some information about the target relative, you can do several things.
1. Does the relative want to be found?
When you set out to reestablish a relationship with a long-lost relative or family member, you should first try to answer the question if they want to be found.
Ask your parents or your closest relatives about how it happened that the family lost connection with that person.
Maybe the person you’ve been looking for has deliberately chosen to sever all family ties and start their life anew.
2. Search online
To begin your search, open a premium account on a reliable people-finding website.
The more details you enter into a people search engine, the more specific results it will generate. The less information you have, the more possible matches you’ll have to check out.
3. Hire a private eye
Finding, systematizing, and collecting information about someone is laborious and time-consuming, so you can leave it to the professionals.True, it’s the most expensive way to find an unknown relative, but also the most reliable.
Your starting point should be the national DNA database. You should collect as much relevant information from the matches that may surface.
After that, you should try to understand if the family member would want to reunite with you. If yes, you can use a people-finding website or hire a private eye to locate them.