Reconnecting with a biological family member is an incredible, dizzying dance. A tango one minute...and a waltz the next. But, whatever the tempo of the reunion, the basic rules are the same: avoid stepping on any toes...and, if you're the one who initiated the search, follow the lead of your partner throughout the initial phases of this delicate pas deux...

But how do you go about getting onto the dance floor? What do you do now that you not only have a name, but also know the current location of the person behind the name? Do you pick up the phone? Do you pour your heart out into a 40-page epistle? Do you send one of those "blank message" greeting cards with "Does 5/6/57 ring any bells?" enigmatically scribbled inside?

This section of our site explores the three most common methods of initiating contact (phone, letter, through an intermediary)...and reviews the pros and cons and do's and don'ts of each option. While most of those seeking to reconnect with a birth relative will find patience, diplomacy and flexibility to be important allies in this final phase of their journey, research has shown (see our Research section for additional statistical information on Illinois adoption searches) that the outcome of an adoption search is rarely, if ever, impacted by the method chosen to make initial contact...If a birth relative or an adoptee is ready to reconnect with this branch of their family tree, you could arrive at their house with a marching band and it probably wouldn't make much difference. (We would not , however, recommend going the marching band route under most circumstances!).  

On the other hand, if the object of your search is not ready for this step, or, worse still, has never even contemplated reuniting with their birth parent or birth son or daughter or sibling, it may take several months, occasionally years, for them to warm up to the idea of reconnecting with birth family matter how carefully and discreetly initial contact is made... The good news is that only a small minority (less than 10% of adoptees and birth parents, according to surveys conducted throughout the world) fall into this latter category.

To learn more about the advantages...and possible pitfalls... of a particular option, please click on the corresponding link below...

making initial contact by phone

making initial contact by letter

making initial contact through an intermediary

You may also be interested in a fourth option, a hybrid of all three of these solutions that is available at minimal cost to all Illinois adoptees and their birth and adoptive families: the White Oak Outreach Program. Please consult the "Outreach" section of this site for additional details.

You will also find the answers to a number of common questions regarding the search and reunion process in our "FAQ."

Should you need assistance, guidance or an understanding (and experienced) ear to share your concerns/feelings/fears with at any point in the reconnection process, please call us at 312/666-5722.


phone: 312-666-5722