#4 – Your Search Will Take Longer Than You Can Imagine
How long will your search take? A lifetime.
No matter how long it takes you to find your birth family your search will feel like a lifetime.
It will take way more time than you can imagine.
My search began in 1998. While it was twenty years before I found my first family member and I say that it took me twenty years, I didn’t spend the entire twenty years looking. For th
e first three years solid I spent as much time as I could, doing everything I could and at one point I thought I would be talking to my mother any day.
But life gets in the way. Things will happen to distract you. Three years into my search we went on the first real vacation we took in years. While we were away our house had an electrical fire and we lost everything, including our pets. Thank God I kept my important documents in a fireproof safe, but several binders filled with hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes, leads and clues was lost to severe smoke damage. I saved what I could.
Hopefully, you won’t have that type of distraction but you will have your own.
You may not have enough money. Your job and family life may not leave you much time for searching. Family may not be supportive. I was fortunate that my husband knew how important this was to me.
It made it so much easier knowing I had my family’s full support.
With DNA testing your search could be over in a few months. Hate to burst your bubble but most likely that is not going to happen. Of course, if your birth parent, sibling or other close relative has tested you could have your answers the day you get your DNA results back. I was recently contacted by a distant relative on Ancestry who was looking for her birthfather. She actually was able to locate him within a day or two. It does happen. Just be prepared for a long search. If it happens sooner you will have a lot to celebrate!!
If you have any information, even a name, that will help. I had what I thought was my true original birth certificate (saving that story for another time) and even with that information it took me several months after my DNA results were back. Of course, my mom had the very common last name of Turner.
My gosh there are a LOT of Turners!! Let’s hope your family name is something odd that hardly anyone has. That will make it so much easier.
Be prepared for a lot of waiting.
If anything, a search will teach you patience. Everything takes time. If you are thinking about doing a DNA test think about the time of year that you will be sending it back to the company. Christmas is a horrible time to do a DNA test. Everyone is doing them, and it will add several extra weeks to getting your results. If you purchase your test when it’s on sale, be prepared to wait a few extra weeks. If it comes back sooner, that will be fantastic, and you’ll be thrilled.
Just don’t expect to get the results back in within a month. That’s highly unlikely and you’ll be making yourself crazy daily looking to see if the results are in. (Maybe that’s just me??)
Once your results come in you still have do the actual searching. It took me seven months. I spent 10-15 hours a day several days a week. (I realize there are seven days in a week! LOL!!) I did take days off and some days I just worked a few hours, but I did try to do some amount of work every single day. I put my life on hold.
You may not have to look that long. Your search may be straightforward and it might not be very hard to piece together. On the other hand you might end up with a similar family to mine. My family turned out to be pretty complicated. My father’s side is very large and there were not a lot of public records. The one great thing about his family is their history was fascinating to me so it was enjoyable to search through them.
There are a lot of adoptions and affairs on my mother’s side – that’s where the name Shady Roots comes from. People do strange things and people have some big secrets. DNA will expose them!
I wish I could give you a definite time line – but there is just no way. So please, be prepared for it to take a long time.
One last thing – once your search for your birth family is over a new type of search will begin.
The search for yourself – because the reunion is a whole other story.
#5 Do it right the first time!
Isn’t that always a rule? I don’t know if you’re like me but I sometimes have a tendency to just start doing things. I’ll read through the instructions and then excitedly get going. I’m trying to be better about referring to the instructions with each step. Having ADD doesn’t help either but I’m learning. This is one of those times I will say – learn from my experience and do as I say, not as I do. Ha!
One of the first things you will want to do is look into the laws for your state. You’ll find that they generally require an annoying amount of hoop jumping. (maybe that’s just me?) Be prepared for
it and you’ll find it a bit easier to deal with. Just know that everything takes time, more time than really seems necessary in this age of technology. There are very few places that you can get information the same day.
When you send away for anything – like your Non-Identifying Information double check the information they require of you. Be sure that you fill out all forms EXACTLY the way they want. Triple check everything!!
If you need to get it notarized – DO IT!!
Believe me – no one will do anything without that notarized signature.
Keep copies of everything you send. Once it’s sent it’s gone and there is no getting it back if it gets lost or ends up sitting on someone’s desk for months.
Be prepared to wait for at least three months if not more to hear anything. Some people that are super fortunate find their family before they get their Non-ID back.
I am still waiting on my Non-id from the State of California because I sent it to the wrong place. When I sent away for it in 1998 they had me send my request to Fresno County where I was
adopted, it took me about three months to get it back.
In 2017 I sent my request to Fresno County thinking it was the same, but nope. I got a reply three months later telling me I needed to send it to Sacramento. I should have checked before I did it. It was a valuable lesson to me.
When you are having to send away for information, don’t take it for granted that the way it was done before, or for someone else, that it will always the same.
Always double check.
Save yourself the misery!
When you get your DNA test the first thing you want to do is register it. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!
The next thing you want to do is write down the number of YOUR test and put it someplace safe.
Put the number in several safe places.
The first place you store it will seem like a good place but you’ll actually forget where that great place is!! (Maybe that’s just me?) I actually took a picture of the test and saved it to a special photo file so I could find it if needed when I was away from home. I then saved that picture in a notebook app so I could actually find the picture. It may be redundant but I know where the info is! LOL
Follow the directions exactly for your DNA test!
If you smoke, DON’T smoke for 30 minutes before you take the test. Don’t eat, drink, chew gum or tobacco for 30 minutes before your test.
Most companies follow the same rules but be sure to check the company that you use in the links below and make sure you follow them exactly.
Here are the How-To’s for Ancestry DNA tests.
Tips and Tricks for your 23 & Me Test
I’ll be posting the rest of the Top 10 soon. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments and I will be happy to address them!