Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Imagine getting a home DNA test kit, just for fun — only to find out that your father wasn’t your biological father at all. That’s precisely what happened to Colorado resident Kasi Mireles Taylor. The results were completely unexpected, and not only for Taylor, but also the person she knew all her life as “dad.”
As shocked and heartbroken as she was, she met with her biological father and was welcomed to a big, inviting Italian family. Taylor says she considers herself lucky to have an extra family who she’s just now getting to know, and the discovery hasn’t changed the love she has for the man who raised her.
The story above is just one example of how DNA results can change a person’s life — or a whole family’s! Home DNA tests have grown in popularity, and it can be devastating, shocking, or exciting to discover new information about your ancestry. Also, it could mean the opportunity to connect with people you’ve never met, but who are your blood relatives.
When you’re ready to reach out to newfound family members, there are some steps you may want take to ensure they’re comfortable with you and that you stay safe.
Check Them Out First
Although the people you just found out are family, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to invite them into your life. A quick background check can often tell you a lot about who the person is, and whether you’d want to naturally trust them without hesitation. It can also provide you with contact information for your new family members, so you can easily get in touch.
Explain Who You Are
Keep in mind that the people you’re contacting may have no idea that they’re related to you. Plus, it could be a red flag to them if someone they don’t know tries to claim they’re family. To put them at ease, do a background check on yourself and offer it as a way to verify who you say you are. It may also be a good idea to show them the DNA results.
Accept That They May Not Want A Relationship
Many people are excited to learn they have more family out there, but not everyone is ready to connect, so be sensitive to that possibility. You may consider starting with conversations on social media before moving to phone conversations.
Meet In Public First
Once you and your new family members are ready to meet up, consider meeting at a public place first, rather than at your home or theirs. Meeting new family members is a lot like online dating: you really don’t know each other yet, and both parties should take at least a modicum of reasonable precautions.
The ties that bind us may or may not be by blood, as family can take shape in different ways. When you find new family members and you reach out, it can be easy to turn a blind eye, though. Doing your research and approaching the relationship cautiously doesn’t mean that there isn’t or shouldn’t be trust. It’s simply the beginning of a great foundation of trust that you and they can tackle over time, now that you know where – and with whom – to start!