Choose the method most comfortable for you.
1) In Person: (NOT RECOMMENDED!). Drive to their home, knock on the door and basically start talking similar to the phone script. Some people have brought a bunch of flowers and simply said I have a delivery for XXXXXX XXXXXX, in hopes to see them in person. This does not always work as the one answering the door may not be that person. Also, bfamily member may be in shock and not respond the way you hoped. They may be scared their secret will get out or may think you are a stalker and call the police.
2) Phone call: this method gets you a more “instant” response. Once you get a phone number, use a script and take notes of EVERYTHING that is said. Be polite no matter how rude the other person is and don’t accuse or insist or argue as this can close the door. (SEE VOICEMAIL below).
“ Hi, my name is (your first and last name) and I am working on a family tree project looking for (birth mother’s name at the time of birth) who was originally from (county/state).” Pause for her reply……assuming she says yes…..then ask, would you please write down my phone number in case we get cut off?....then when she agrees, give her your telephone number and name. Then ask “is this a good time to talk?” (if not, then ask WHEN would be a better time and call back then). She may have someone in the room that she does not want listening.
“The family I am looking for had a (use information from Non-ID such as father who worked for a XXXXXXXXX company, only one daughter).” Pause again for her response. If she says “no” to something try to get the correct information.
Depending on what she has said matches your information, slip in the following line:
“Does the date (your date of birth) have any special meaning for you?” If she remembers (some were traumatized by having to place a child for adoption), you will get some kind of response – could be a sharp intake of breath, crying, excitement, etc. If bmom is excited or happy the conversation will flow…..still TAKE NOTES because you will be too excited to remember what she said!
If she says no, no special meaning…..then say, “I was born on (repeat the date) in (city) to a (birthmother’s name at the time of birth) and placed for adoption. I am searching for my birth family to learn my medical family history and my heritage. I don’t want to upset anyone’s life but this is important to me.” PAUSE……if she denies that she is bmom, ask if she knows of another (birth mother’s name) who may be the right person. (If she truly is not bmom, she likely will be very nice and want to help or if she does not remember, that is okay – treat it as if you agree). This is to give the person the benefit of the doubt and not “accuse” them of anything. They were probably not expecting this call and may be in shock and may need time to think.
Thank her for her time and say goodbye. Follow up the phone call with a “thank you type” letter or card that includes your photo (preferably a head shot like high school yearbook style). The photo may jog her memory and the letter/card will give her all your contact information should she change her mind or remember later.
No matter what your childhood was like, do NOT say a lot of negative things about it at this point. You can do that as you get to know each other better. Bmoms need to feel that the decision they made was okay and it really was the best decision they could make at that time. They are afraid that their child will be angry with them or “want” something (money, a home, inheritance, etc.) and they are just as afraid of rejection as you might be. They were told that the child could never search and that they could never search for the child. They were told to “move on with life” and they have tried to do that but most do NOT forget.
if you are getting voicemail, leave the following message:
My name is XXX and I am working on my family tree. I am looking for information on a relative named XXX (SPELL THIS FOR THEM). I am hoping to find anyone who can help me. My telephone number is XXX -XXX - XXXX and I will try to call back on (day of the week and date such as Thursday, Nov 20th at 7pm Pacific time...) in hopes that I can speak to someone.
This gives them the reason you are calling and who you are (not a salesperson) and if they are home on the day you told them you would call back, they are more likely to now recognize your phone number and answer. Or they may just call you back.
BE SURE THAT YOUR OWN PHONE NUMBER IS UNBLOCKED SO THEY CAN SEE YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER ON THEIR CALLER ID.
In this day and age, there are more people NOT answering their telephones.
3) LETTER/Card: this can be more difficult as you have to wait for their response and people tend not to be letter writers these days.
*Try to make sure the address is current and on the outside of the envelope in the left hand side to the left of their address write ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED. If they have moved AND left a forwarding address with the post office, the post office will stick one of those yellow stickers on it with the new address and will mail it back to YOU. This gives you the new correct address so that you can put it in another envelope to mail to them and they don’t know how you got the new address. Keep in mind many people do NOT fill out forwarding address forms for the post office.
*Write the letter or a card in your own handwriting and also address the envelope in handwriting, too, to avoid it looking like junk mail. A card in a colored envelope is the best choice for getting opened; there are blank cards out there that would work just fine. If you have your own decorative return address labels, you can use one of those for the return address. You want it to look like a personal card.
*Send it “receipt requested” or in some way that the post office tells you when it was delivered or who signed for it or you have some way to track it. It is best to use a method where they don’t have to sign for it because they may feel it is a bill collector or something. Trust your instincts and if you feel Fed Ex is okay, then go for it.
If you think bmom is married to someone who may not know about you or you are worried that someone might see the card or letter and read it, make it the “looking for an old friend” type but include your photo.
BE SURE TO PUT YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, ALL PHONE #S, EMAIL ADDRESS, ETC. SO THEY CAN CONTACT YOU. ALSO TELL THEM IF YOU WILL ACCEPT A COLLECT CALL. OR YOU CAN SAY YOU WILL TRY CALLING THEM ON A CERTAIN DAY AT A CERTAIN TIME (Then be sure to call them then and be sure to ask if this is a good time for them to talk in case someone else is there. If they say it is not a good time to talk, ask when a good time to talk would be.)
Some people send a photo with their letter, however, some don’t because they want the bmom to contact them in order to get a photo or to find out how they are doing in life. If you tell them everything and give them a photo, they may not contact you as they now have all the info they might want. If you did send a photo, please make sure you put a line in there that says you are sending a photo so they can see how much you look like your parents now. Or you can always add something like this:
"I will send you a picture soon so that you can see how much I now look like my mother/father." Or “I am including a photo of myself in hopes it will help you to remember me.”
The idea is to write it in such a way as to be sure that they can explain you as being an old friend to someone else who may see the letter.
I am searching for an old friend from back in (month and year of your birth) who I knew in (city of your birth). Her name at that time was (Bmom's known or suspected name) and she was about (her age at your birth). I am hoping that you may be this person.
I think of you often and wondered how you were doing. My name was (birth First Name) then but I now go by the name of (current name).
I moved away from (birthplace) a long time ago and came to (current state). --About 2 lines about yourself (EXAMPLE: I have a wonderful husband, two grown children and one grandson. My husband is a master electrician and is a supervisor for a hospital here. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Programming. I work as a computer programmer/analyst.)
Please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
You can reach me by phone at ______________. My mailing address
is_________________: You can also email me at ________________________.
(Sign your first name)
(AFTER PHONE CALL) SAMPLE FOLLOW-UP THANK YOU CARD :
This is just to thank you for taking the time to speak to me the other day. I know that you said you were unable to help me with my genealogy project however if later you should think of something that may help, please do not hesitate to contact me. My main purpose in tracing my family tree is to learn my medical history and my heritage. I don’t know if I resemble anyone in your (maiden surname) family line but I am enclosing my photo just in case. My contact information is below.
ADD ALL YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION!