Have you noticed that over the last several years, there have been more and more stories of people finding their long lost siblings and relatives on the internet? There was even a story of a man who took to the internet to find his father, who was a sperm donor, but ended up finding a half-sibling from the same sperm donor instead!
The digital age makes a lot of great things possible and among them is the fact that you can hop on Google, do a few hours of research, and at least find yourself with some really great leads for finding people, if not having actually found the people already just in those few hours.
Are you looking for a sibling, relative, or maybe even a birth parent that you’ve never known? Along with the fact that the internet already makes researching individuals quite easy, there are also now many websites that are designed specifically to help long lost family members find each other.
Here, we’ll give you some tips for finding family members that will help you get on your way to making, or re-making, your connections. Keep in mind that specific information will depend on which familial connection you are searching for, but these overall tips will help you get started in the right direction for any people search.
1. Take stock of all the information you currently have
Do you have their first name and last name? If so, that’s a great place to get started with an internet search. Having their full name is obviously the best circumstance, but don’t despair if you only have a first name or other identifying information. Often, in these circumstances, there will be papers or mementos or bits of stories you may have heard. Even if you think something won’t be useful, there’s no telling when it could come in handy. For this reason, take stock of all the information and documents and items you currently know or have about the person before you begin your search.
2. Do a very simple internet search on a primary search engine
We know what you’re thinking – what are the chances that you’ll find who you are looking for just by typing some information into Google? Well, you’d be surprised how often it happens. People have even found each other on YouTube! And we know what else you’re thinking – what if you don’t have their full name? Well, it doesn’t matter. Try typing in all the bits of information you know about them. For example, if you have their first name and the name of their high school, type “Bob High School High.” You never know what could happen, so before spending a lot of money on a more comprehensive search, always start with the easiest option.
3. Determine if there are any state records you can use to track back information
Do you have a birth certificate? Maybe a marriage license? Even if you just know where the person got their broken arm fixed when they were 14 years old, you might have a good lead on finding them. Often, going back to state agencies will help you find more information you didn’t even know you could access. You may find nothing new, but of course, like anything else in finding your long lost relatives, its worth a shot.
4. Figure out if you want to use a private investigator or independent search consultant
A lot of people know that you can hire a private investigator (PI) to help when you’re trying to discover information that you may not be able to easily find alone, but did you know you can also hire someone called an independent search consultant, or ISC? ISCs are generally more expensive than PIs, so be aware of that before you go in this direction, but they specialize in finding people and could be worth the cost. You can research ISCs at websites like ICSsearch.com.
5. If you don’t want to go the PI route, use a specialty web service
Websites like My Heritage or The Seeker are designed especially for circumstances like this: connecting people with their lost relatives. Some of these services are free and some charge, so it’s worth looking around and doing some research on one that you think will be a great fit. You can also try a public records search, which may provide you with information your Google search did not.
6. Check social media and specialty web forums
Finally, there’s the biggest tool available to you in 2016: social media. It’s easy enough to search Facebook, but you might even find success searching less comprehensive profile sites like Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. You never know where your long lost relative may be, but it’s a good bet they are probably on at least one social network. You may even be able to connect to a different relative or individual that will help you find your way. There are also forum boards that are made for this: Your Family, for example, has a long lost family bulletin board.
There are many different ways you can connect with loved ones you are looking for – and luckily, the internet in 2016 is a really great resource!