The dilemma of adoption and tracing your birth family

So you are around 60-ish years old and you were adopted soon after birth. Having had a wonderful up bringing and love from your late adoptive parents you now find yourself curious and happy to look for your birth family/relatives.

With the wonders of the internet and advise from your local U3A Family History Group you start your search. It’s not that easy. You have some snippets of information that you were given over the years by your adoptive parents. Oh how you wish you had asked more questions.

Being of ‘colonial’ birth and adopted by another ‘colonial’ family it is quite difficult to know where to start. But eventually you seem to be making some progress when suddenly you may have struck gold. You think you have found a sibling or half-sibling who may also have been adopted and is living thousands of miles away in New Zealand.

Before even trying to find contact details you have to answer a big question. Having set out to find your roots you are quite happy and keen to make contact. But in doing so would it bring the other person’s life tumbling down?

Maybe they wouldn’t want to make contact even if they already know their roots. Their own experience of looking for and finding blood relatives and learning family history or secrets may not have been a happy one.

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On the other hand they, like you, might be totally open and non judgmental of what has gone before and would be thrilled to be contacted by a blood relative and to compare information and maybe learn more family history.

Many children found themselves adopted in the colonies, be it due to deaths, affairs, divorces etc. These adopted children would often move around the colonies with their new parents before the family returned to the UK or settled in the country of their last posting.

Tracing these family histories is further complicated by the children’s change of surname soon after birth and in the case of a female, further changes of name upon marrying, maybe more than once. Often overseas records are difficult to search and follow when names change.

So back to the start and the search.

Do I try and make contact with this possible relative? Have you experienced this same dilemma? Maybe you have already made contact with your blood family, how did it go? Would you appreciate a call from an unknown sibling? Would it spoil or put pressure on any relationship you might already have with your birth parents or family? Anybody had any experience of this dilemma? What would you do? What should I do?!