Many of us at some time in our life have had the desire to find someone from our past. Whether it be a long lost family member or friend, the desire to search for and find someone is something that could eat away at us if we don’t act on it. There are two routes you can take in order to fulfill this need, you could undertake the task yourself or you could enlist the services of a professional people finder. Whichever route you take, before you begin your search, consider these seven things to help your search go more smoothly.
1. Consider your reasons
Carefully consider your reasons for wishing to find someone. If it is for a particular occasion such as a school reunion or a significant life event such as an important birthday or anniversary, you need to make sure that you allow sufficient time in order to carry out the search. Tracing a person that you have not had contact with for many years can take a considerable amount of time – sometimes even months. So make sure you set out with plenty of time ahead of you. The reason for tracing someone can also dictate the costs involved or the amount of money that you are prepared to spend.
2. Set a budget
Whether you decide to enlists the help of a professional or whether you undertake the task yourself both involve costs. It is always a good idea at the outset to decide on how much money you are willing or able to spend in order to find someone. Setting a budget is a way of ensuring that costs don’t spiral out of control. It’s very easy to get carried away, trying a series of increasingly expensive methods, in order to achieve the objective. The reason for tracing someone will often dictate the amount of money that you spend. If you are adopted and are trying to locate your birth parents then it may be worth investing a sizeable amount of money to achieve your goal. However, if you are trying to find an old school friend to invite them to a school reunion then spending a ton of money may not be so desirable.
3. Have realistic expectations
Having considered your reasons for tracing someone and setting your budget, it is important to have realistic expectations. A person who has run away from a previous life and disappeared may well be full of regret after a few years and be desperate to hear from their loved ones. Equally they may have made a new life for themselves, be in a new relationship and may not wish to be reminded of their old life. I have always maintained that almost anyone can be found if you commit enough money and resources to the effort. However, there are some people that have taken steps to make sure that they are never found or they may have died in the intervening years. This can be extremely sad and disappointing but you must try to prepare yourself for such outcomes.
4. Consider the moral issues
Finding people can be fraught with moral dilemmas. Some are immediately obvious and standout like a sore thumb, others don’t manifest themselves until much further down the line. An adopted child seeking the whereabouts of their natural parents is a common scenario. The dilemma is that more often than not the birth parents have new lives and new family and relationships and some birth parents may not welcome contact. Others may well be delighted.
5. Ensure that you have some support
Finding someone from your past, whether it is a family member or a person of significance, can be an extremely emotional and traumatic event. Before making a firm decision to trace someone, you need to enlist the support of someone close to you so you can talk through your hopes, fears and expectations.
6. Think deeply and gather information
Good information is the cornerstone of being able to find someone. The more accurate information you have about the person, the easier the search could be. Collate information from your own memory and write down as much about the person as you can recall. This includes their full name, any nicknames, age, birthday, occupation, hobbies, where they used to live, the names of their other family members etc. This could take a period of several days to complete but is a very important step in the process.
7. Verify any facts and information
The human memory is fallible, especially over an extended period of time. Any information or facts you may have in your memory really need to be verified where possible. Inaccurate spelling of names and places can have a significant detrimental effect on the direction that your enquiries take, so making sure you have correct spellings can save a lot of wasted effort. If one of your family members or friends also knows the person you are trying to find, it is well worth running any information or facts by them to see if your information is accurate. By doing this, not only does your information have a greater chance of being more accurate, but you may also discover information about the person that you didn’t know or perhaps have forgotten.
If, for whatever reason, you are considering searching for someone, whether you decide to do it yourself or whether you seek professional help I wish you luck in your endeavours.