Preparing for different outcomes (Leaflet 3)

Preparing for different outcomes

Hope for the best but prepare for different outcomes

This leaflet has been written from our experience and expertise and also with help from external research. In this leaflet we discuss different outcomes when searching for your relatives.

If you have difficulties with language or reading, please let us know and we will read this information over the phone or to someone who can support you.  Should you need any further information or support about this matter you can phone or email us via the details on our website.

You have put your trust in us to find your birth family relatives and we are embarking on a journey with you to help you to do this.  Whilst we often have positive outcomes, we do have to prepare you for the idea that the relative we are finding may not wish to be in contact with you.  We want to help you to hope for the best, but prepare for any disappointment, and tell you what we will do if this happens. 

The processes that we have to go through will be explained to you as you go along by your support worker.  We have to undertake many steps before we can legally trace anyone for you, and sometimes this takes months.  Please contact us immediately if you are unsure as to where we are in the process, and we will speak with you and update you. One area where we do have to wait is in hearing from the Adoption Agency who processed your adoption.  We are in the process of talking with government representatives who may help to hurry this process along.  However – we will keep you posted on your specific case and so please call us if you want to know.  

If we suppose that all the legal procedures are completed, generally most people want some form of direct contact, and would consider this the best outcome.  (Of course, that may not be your specific aim, but we will have already discussed your aims with you).  Sometimes direct contact cannot happen, and, if this is the case we will support you with the outcome that you clearly will not have expected.  Occasionally the relative is deceased which is always upsetting, and we will help you with this.  But occasionally the relative concerned does not wish to be in touch.  We try to help people to understand that this is not a response to you personally, but it will be based on the circumstances of that person’s life at this current time.  Sometimes people are choosing not to think about their birth family or getting in touch with their past, and they have every right to be in this position.  As an Intermediary Agency we have a legal obligation to protect both the searcher and the subject of the search.  We will write to the subject up to three times to try and get in touch, but sometimes they chose not to respond, or they write to say they don’t wish to be in touch.  We have to honour their decision, and legally we have no right to push anyone to change their mind.  Sometimes our clients get cross about this and want us to push further, but we need to prepare you in advance that we have a legal and ethical responsibility not to try and make people change their minds.  We will however do all within our power to help you if this occurs. 

What we can do if your relative does not want to be in touch:

Firstly we provide counselling to help you understand and give meaning to the refusal. 

Secondly we will put a note on the adoption file (where possible) to say that you have tried to be in contact and leave your contact details.

Thirdly we will remind the subject of the search that, if they don’t want to be in touch now, they may be in touch at any time in the future and that we will be pleased to hear from them. 

Fourthly we will keep your file so that if they are in touch we can connect with you immediately. 

And finally we will try to convey simply the message that you have been in touch.

The most you can hope for under such circumstances is that your relative will know you went to efforts to find them and this may be of some consolation.   

What we cannot do if your relative chooses not to be in touch:

We cannot pass their data to you.  This would break the law.

We cannot push them for a response beyond our three letters.

We cannot tell you who they are or where they live.

Regardless of success or failure what you should know is that we will be running through a legally specified process in order to find your relative.  This is labour intensive and takes up a lot of time.  Regardless of the outcome, the fee is still payable as we have to undertake a lot of work to find the person and then to close your file and ensure it is safely kept. 

Watch our video about this leaflet: