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Found - mother's sister - what next?!

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UmmMerlin Report 23 Feb 2020 19:02

Hello there,

Well, after what has been a long, frustrating, blind (at times) search for my biological grandmother and her family, I have finally found who I hope is my mother's living sister.

Bit of a back story: My mother was adopted back in the 1940s (long story..) and never knew her mother until her adopted mother passed away and her adopted father gave her her family history. The search began. This was some 25 years ago. Since then, and very sadly since the passing of my mother in 1999, I have been off and on researching, trying to piece together the puzzle for her sake. Going with my biological grandfather's details, I was eventually able to undertake detailed research and have today found that he had another daughter whose birth details have been confirmed and tally up with my bio grandmother's surname. This find has been totally unexpected.

Now.. what next? I believe my mother's sister is still alive - she would be around 65 and resides in Kent. How on earth would I go about contacting her? I understand this would be an extremely delicate matter, someone contacting you out of the blue announcing, oh I'm your long-lost niece! How does one write such a letter?

I would love to see her, and I genuinely mean it wouldn't have to be face to face - but just a photo, and more especially, to see photos of my grandmother. I feel that then I could be at peace knowing that I did this for my darling mother who always felt there was a piece of herself missing, and at times, was quite overcome with emotion at her sense of loss.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated and I thank you for reading this.


ArgyllGran Report 23 Feb 2020 20:17

Write a very tactfully worded letter, explaining all about it.
Given your well worded post, I'm sure you would do it well.
Give her lots of definite facts, records, etc, so she can see it's not a scam.

She may not be aware of your existence - or even your mother's existence.
It may upset her memories and feelings about her father. I assume he is deceased?

Don't phone.
A letter gives her time to think about it, and re-read, and confer with relatives, before she decides what to do - if anything.
It may take her a long time to come to terms with it, or to decide whether or not to contact you.

Don't hound her - give her time.
And bear in mind that she may not want to reply to your letter at all, for any number of reasons.
If she doesn't reply, just drop it, no matter how disappointing that may be for you.

Good luck!


ErikaH Report 24 Feb 2020 15:19

It might also be a good idea to enclose a stamped addressed envelope for any possible reply.


KathleenBell Report 24 Feb 2020 15:36

ArgyllGran is right - send a letter but do not phone to make the first contact.

We had a similar case when I found my father's half sister (my father's dad left the family in the 1920's and later married again and had this daughter). My father and his siblings knew nothing about her and were all deceased when I found her through research and the help of a librarian in the area she lived. We found an address for her through an obituary found in a newspaper but the address was about 20 years out of date. I sent a letter to the same newspaper simply asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of this lady to get in touch by letter or email.

As it happens my father's half sister did not see the piece in the newspaper but her late husband's sister did and she emailed me the very next day. She gave me an address and assured me that the lady in question would not mind me getting in touch.

I wrote a letter and said first off that I was doing my family history and had come across her and hoped she would not be too upset by the fact that my grandfather had been married to my grandmother before he married her mum. I emphasised that I only wanted to find out what had happened to my grandfather and I didn't have any axe to grind. I also sent a stamped addressed envelope to make it easier for her to reply. She was in her late seventies at that time.

I waited for nearly two months before she replied but she explained that she hadn't been well and it had come as a great surprise although a welcome one. We ended up corresponding regularly until her death a couple of years ago. She had known her father had been married before but had no idea he had left 3 children which she found difficult to understand but he had died almost 50 years before our contact so it was all water under the bridge.

You might find it better to just say that you have been researching your family tree and think there may be some connection with her. I don't think I would say how close the relationship is unless she shows an interest in your research. My feeling is that most people would respond in a positive way, but give her plenty of time to reply without pushing her.

Good luck.

Kath. x


UmmMerlin Report 25 Feb 2020 10:29

Thank you all for your responses.

I've drafted a letter and I have added the facts from my mother's birth certificate and stated that further research shows that my bio grandparents had another daughter... and that I think she may be my mother's sister.. Would it be best not to include the details about my mother? Should I also say instead, 'further research indicates that there may be some connection to you'? I just don't know how to say this, it's like walking on eggshells when inside I want to excitedly declare, 'You're my mother's long-lost sister!'

As for contacting her, I don't have a phone number, only a previously registered company address (for my 'aunt''s business).

I have also found that she has a daughter, who has the same middle name as my bio grandmother's first name (I thank the lord that my mother's side of the family has unusual names as it makes searching so much easier!) and her daughter has a Facebook account so I've actually now seen a couple of photographs of my 'aunt'. (Just to say, this missing piece of the jigsaw was put into place when I obtained a copy of my bio grandfather's death certificate - it was signed by his daughter (my 'aunt') and the rest of this puzzle has now unfolded...)

Anyhow, I don't know whether to contact my 'cousin' via Facebook, or send a letter to the last registered company address? How would I approach my cousin on FB? Should I just say something along the lines of, "from research over 20 years, I think I may be a relative of your mother and as this is the only direct contact I have, I wonder if I could write to her?" Something along those lines? I want to come across as genuine as possible however I don't want to go into a great amount of detail on FB with her daughter, but I do want to give something to her to ensure the genuineness and sincerity of my contact so that she'll pass my message to her mother. There are dubious characters out there on FB and I definitely don't wish to appear like one! But this might be the most direct way to get in touch otherwise I could be going from pillar to post.

Any further guidance anyone might be able to offer would be very much appreciated and I am taking all points on board.

Thank you in advance xx :-)


ArgyllGran Report 25 Feb 2020 11:37

How recent is the company address?
Have you looked for her on an Electoral Roll?

If you do write, I agree with Kathleen's advice to mention a "Connection" in the first place. Then if she replies and seems interested, you can go into the full detail later.

I suppose the daughter might be amenable to contact via Facebook, but as you say, do keep it as non-specific as possible. She might also be more willing to receive such contact, being a further generation removed.