There was no doubt that finding my birthmother’s name was a miracle. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to link to ‘catch-up’ posts.) Now it was time to start making calls. We had a good list based upon her maiden name and the hope that at least one of her brothers still lived in her hometown. Just in case we hit a dead end with those, we included women with the same last name. Before I continue with the rest of the miracle story, it’s important to share the right way to go about making contact. The seven consolidated suggestions below come from research and my own experience:
HOW TO MAKE CONTACTS WITHOUT CAUSING HEART ATTACKS
1) Keep calm and steady and as far away from a salesman type voice as possible.
2) GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT. You may think you’re the only one for the job, but when your legs turn to jelly and your mouth to mush, you’ll change your mind.
3) Have a ‘hook’ to keep them from immediately hanging up. We decided using my birth mother’s full name should work to catch their attention. If they loved her, they’d want to protect her. If they knew her as an acquaintance, they’d want to be nosy. Either way, they’d most likely stay on the line.
4) Be TRUTHFUL while attempting to protect privacy. Within the ‘hook’ tell that you are attempting to fill in some blanks in your family tree and you think the listener may be able to help.
5) QUICKLY offer your phone number, name and birthdate. Do not tell them it is your birthdate, but tell them this date may have meaning to the person you are seeking.
6) Ask them to please write this information down! Ask again to be sure they have it before hanging up. If they can’t remember anything now, they may later, and will have your number to call back. If they know him/her well enough, they can now make contact using your name, phone number and birthdate. The date may not help…sometimes birthparents don’t remember exact dates and sometimes it’s as if it were torched into their memories. Either way is a coping tool for them. Understand that the person you’re speaking with may know your parent but be conflicted about speaking in their stead. They may lie. There are other good reasons a person may not divulge knowing someone to a perfect stranger over the phone. Put yourself in their shoes and be understanding, never demanding! Also understand that they truly may not know your relative.
7) If you find someone who does know your relative, be clear that you are willing to wait for contact. This way, the listener won’t feel pressured to give you a phone number. Feel them out a bit. If there seems to be the slightest chance they’ll give you a number, get it before they change their mind. Otherwise, do as I already said, then pray and wait. Your wait may be shorter than you think.
This is the protocol we followed and it worked! Using these guidelines, we found a name that saved the day and consequently moved from a name on a document to a soft, weeping voice on the phone. (To be continued.)
My current posts tell the chronological story of my search. Get up to date by clicking here and then read the posts in order, beginning at the bottom of the page. It is my hope that readers find encouragement, inspiration and knowledge for their own search journey.
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr