Making First Contact with Your Birth Parents
So you’ve finally found your biological father, your birth mother, a biological sibling, or other close genetic family member. Now, you’re trying to figure out the best way to contact them. Each first contact method has its pros and cons. Let’s go over them together.
Making First Contact with Your Birth Parents Quicklinks
For the sake of this article, let’s assume that you have found your birth parents. If it’s just one parent, a sibling, or someone else, the same logic applies.
1. Write a Letter to Your Birth Parents
A handwritten letter is personal, and you can make it heartfelt. We cover how to write the perfect letter to your birth parents here.
Pros of Writing a Letter as First Contact
- You can take as much time as you need to compose the letter. You can put it down and come back to it, adding further thoughts and emotions as they come to you. You can even crumple it up and start again if needed.
- A letter in your own handwriting is much more meaningful to your birth parents than electronic communication.
- Your biological dad and mom can take as much time as they need to read, absorb, and re-read your letter before responding.
Cons of the Handwritten Letter Contact Method
- You can’t be sure your birth parents have received and read it. If you send it via certified mail, you can at least know they received it…but not that they opened it. Chances are high, however, that if they signed for you letter, they’ll have opened and read it.
- A letter doesn’t allow you to hear one another’s voice.
2. Email Your Birth Mom and Dad
Email has many of the same pros and cons as writing a handwritten letter, with a couple exceptions:
- Electronic communication is faster, so you don’t have the long wait time of snail mail (pro)
- Email is less personal than a handwritten letter (con)
3. Call Your Birth Parents on the Phone
With a phone call, your birth mom and dad can hear your voice, and you theirs. Vocal inflections carry over in a way that written communication cannot. This can be good and bad: they may feel blindsided or unsure what to say, and their hesitancy may feel discouraging to you.
Pros of Calling Your Biological Parents
- You’ll know right away whether you’ve made contact with your birth mother and father. When your mom or dad answer the phone and you ask if they remember a very specific date (your birthdate), their shock (or lack thereof) will be a giveaway that you’ve got the right people.
- You can avoid the anxious days of waiting for your letter to reach your birth parents…and their subsequent response.
Cons of Calling Your Real Parents
- Depending on your dad’s and mom’s personalities, they may freeze up or otherwise be very uncomfortable at the sudden phone call from you.
- Your biological mom or dad may wish to get off the phone as quickly as possible because there are other family members in the room (your stepmom or stepdad, some half-siblings, or other biological family members) who don’t know about you.
- You may take any hesitancy on your mom or dad’s part personally and have your feelings hurt.
4. Use a Trusted Intermediary to Contact Your Birth Parents
Instead of contacting your birth parents yourself, you can have a third party contact them on your behalf. This trusted intermediary could be any of the following:
- A close friend
- A family member
- A minister, priest, rabbi, or other religious figure if you belong to a particular faith
- The adoption agency that handled your closed adoption
- A professional birth parent liaison service such as Origins Genealogy.
If you use an intermediary to make that first contact with your birth parents, make sure they are emotionally mature and capable of handling whatever reaction your dad or mom might have. They should be prepared to explain the following:
- Why they are making contact on your behalf
- Why you chose this time to make your first contact with your biological parents
- What you hope to gain from making contact
- A relationship with your parents
- Understanding where you came from and why you are the way you are
- Forgiveness and healing
- How you concluded that he or she (the person on the other end of the phone) is your biological father or mother (DNA test, online detective work, information from the adoption agency, etc)
- What evidence you have that she or he (the person on the other end of the phone call) is your father or mother
- What next steps you would welcome (phone call with you, meeting in person, etc)
The trusted intermediary should also be attuned to the subtle behaviors and tonalities of your birth dad or mom. Does he or she seem:
- Like they just want to get off the phone?
- In denial?
Your trusted intermediary should possess the emotional intelligence and fluidity to respond appropriately to whatever signals your birth parents are sending, and guide the conversation to its best possible conclusion.
Pros of Using a Trusted Intermediary to Contact Your Parents
- A skilled intermediary can remove much of the pressure from the call
- An intermediary allows you to “take the temperature” of your biological dad or mom to assess how willing they are to meet you
- You have less emotional risk of rejection if the call does not go well, given that you’re not the one talking to your birth parents
Cons of the Trusted Intermediary First Contact Approach
- You might be dying of anticipation while you wait for your intermediary to report back
- No other real cons to the intermediary method
Jenny’s Story: I Had My Friend Call My Birth Mom
When Jenny Wallentine, co-founder of Origins Genealogy, finally located her birth mom, she used the trusted intermediary approach…with a twist.
Jenny had her best friend make the phone call to Peggy (the woman Jenny identified as almost certainly her birth mother). Jenny listened on the line. When the intermediary asked Peggy if she remembered a specific date (Jenny’s birthdate), Peggy gasped.
That was when Jenny knew she had the right person.
Read more about Jenny’s experience finding her birth mother here.
Jenny Helps Others Connect with Their Birth Parents
In her role at Origins, Jenny helps adult adoptees locate their biological parents via DNA testing and other research methods.
She also helps them make that first contact with their birth family.
As an adult adoptee herself, Jenny understands the complex feelings that accompany the journey to connect with your biological roots.
Whether you are trying to find a biological sibling, make that tenuous first contact with your biological dad, or reach out to your birth mom, Jenny can help.
Contact Origins Genealogy at (801) 500-0900 or [email protected] to speak to Jenny Wallentine personally and begin your reunion journey.