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What To Expect When You Finally Find Your Estranged Family Member

After years of wondering what happened to your long-lost family…
Happy family cheering with red wine at reunion dinner in garden

After years of wondering what happened to your long-lost family member, you finally find them. This is an exciting moment, but what should you expect when you’re finally reunited? Keep reading to find out what you can expect when you finally find your estranged family member.

Don’t expect them to be the same person you remember.


When an estranged family member is finally found, either through a people search or an ancestry website, don’t expect them to be the same person you remember. There are several possible reasons for this, as they may have changed significantly since you last saw them. They may have been through a traumatic experience that affected them profoundly. They may also simply not want to reconnect with you for whatever reason.

Whatever the case, it’s important to approach any reunion with caution and patience. Don’t push them too hard if they’re not ready to talk about what happened; just let them know that you’re there for them if they need anything. If things go well, take things slow and let the relationship grow gradually—don’t try to rush things and risk scaring them off. It helps to have another friend or family member around during your first meeting.

Don’t expect them to be open to contact.

When you finally find your estranged family member, they may be hesitant to connect with you at first. They may need some time to get used to the idea of having a relationship with you. Be patient and let them take things at their own pace. You may also experience some tension or conflict early on. This is normal, and it’s something that you’ll likely have to work through. Be understanding and respectful of each other’s feelings, and try not to jump to conclusions. Give yourselves time to get to know each other again.

To help ease the process, consider chatting with them on a social media platform before reuniting in person. This lets you reconnect without the added pressure of meeting in person. Texting is another option you may choose instead of a public meeting. Texting allows you and your family member to think before they say something, which may relieve apprehension.

You both may feel a range of emotions.


Finding long-lost relatives can be an emotional rollercoaster. You may feel excited one minute and then devastated the next. This is normal, especially if the reunion was unexpected. Here are more details about the emotions you may experience:

  • Shock: It’s natural to feel shocked when you find out a family member is alive after thinking they were dead. You may also feel shocked when you see them for the first time in years. Regardless, the feeling will likely fade as you get to know your relative better.
  • Happiness: It’s wonderful to finally have a family member back in your life after years of being apart. You’ll probably spend hours talking on the phone or catching up online. This phase will eventually pass, but it’s important to enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Guilt: You may feel guilty for not trying harder to find your relative or for not staying in touch after finding them. These feelings are common, but try not to dwell on them too much. Accepting that things happened the way they did is part of moving on.
  • Disappointment: The reunion may not be what you expected, and you may feel let down by your relative. They may have changed a lot since you last saw them or they may not want to reconnect with you at all. Don’t give up hope yet—sometimes relationships take time to rebuild.

By addressing any tension or healing old wounds, your meetings will feel more productive, so don’t give up if your first few meetings are a bit hard to get through. However, if you think the meetings are not moving your relationship forward, giving your estranged family member some space is best.

Finding estranged family members is sometimes tricky, but the reward of reuniting with them can be fulfilling. It is important to be patient and understand that the process may take time. Be prepared for various emotions and be ready to have an open discussion about what went wrong in the past.