How do I find someone I knew a long time ago?
This is one of the most common questions searched around our industry.
If you’re looking to find someone you have lost touch with, what can you do?
About the Author
My name is David Oates, I am the Head Researcher at Relative Connections, you can view my LinkedIn by clicking here. I am also the director of the adoption support agency which is regulated by Ofsted. I have spoken about finding long lost family on BBC Radio 5 and was part of the featured team on BBC1’s Family Finders TV series.
Most people protect their identities to such a degree that they are not easy to find. In most cases the person you are looking for will likely want contact with you but how do you go from this point to reconnecting with them.
This article can help you answer the question, how do I find someone I knew a long time ago?
Relative Connections have been helping people just like you for over ten years. So, if you would like a quote to find someone, please get in touch.
In terms of some of the techniques we use to find people that are available to the general public, they are few and far between. Most of the time we work in the following way, hopefully this helps you too.
Firstly, we make sure we have as much relevant information to be able to find someone. This is as much as a client can remember but would focus on the following information
- The person’s name
Also consider is this a maiden name. Could they have changed their name for any reason? How do you know this is their name? Do you have proof this is their name?
- The date of birth or an age.
This can be useful as a confirmation tool. You can change your name relatively simply, but you cannot change the date you were born.
- A last known address
Do you know where they once lived? Even it that was many years ago there are ways to look at old addresses. This can work when you are looking for someone but have forgotten their surname for example.
- Their DNA
Believe it or not you can find a birth relative even if you don’t know their name. This can be really useful for people who are looking for their father but don’t have any information about him.
It’s complicated work so it might be worth getting the experts in to do it for you, but you can use your own DNA to find relatives. This is true even if they haven’t done a DNA test.
Once you’ve written all this stuff down and you have a good idea or who you are looking for, you can start your search.
We usually start with cross referencing the information we do have with actual facts. Ancestry and Find my Past are both good places to start. You can search for the persons birth certificate or possible marriages. There is lots you can do to start building the picture of your someone.
Once we have done that we’ll use our in-depth address searching systems to look for potential matches.
Please note we do not give out personal information and we work to very strict ethical company rules. We ensure we protect the person we find too. This means once we have located someone’s address, we would not supply to our client. Instead, we act as an intermediary so we can ensure we keep everyone safe.
If you are carrying out your own searches and you find someone you knew a long time ago, please consider how you will approach them. Consider that they might not want contact with you at this exact moment.
It might not be a good time for them. Please use an intermediary to do the contacting for you. It can be frightening to be traced by someone and it is important that the person you find has the right to consider your approach. When you knock on someone’s door this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
With that in mind it can be good practice to look for the person via social media, this can be a more accepted route (although in our opinion still not a good look).
If you know the persons current name via your own research, you can look on websites like Facebook and LinkedIn to see if they have a photo and a profile on there. You can also do a Google search for the person; this works so many times and not many people know how to do it.
Simply write “the person’s name” in speech marks as we have here.
This will make Google search that exact match. If you have other information, you can write that outside of the speech marks like this “name of person” Leeds or “name of person” boat club. Anything that will help you to narrow it down. Google will then search for that.
How do I find someone I knew a long time ago, fairly?
Finding someone does come with a great responsibility. You might have decided that now is a good time to find them but just be considerate that it might not be a good time for them. Timing is crucial for a good outcome.
Even when we are looking for birth relatives, we can sometimes get what appears to be a negative response to our contact, it is only over the passage of time that we later find out that the person we contacted was going through something in their life and it just wasn’t a good time for them.
Again, not wanting to force the point too much but it is better to let professional agencies like ours find and contact the person you are looking for. This way we can safeguard you and the person you are looking for. Just get in touch if that is of interest.
Finally, finding people can be fun, it can also be emotional. Make sure you prepare yourself for the various outcomes that come with looking for someone from a long time ago. As you have said, you have not seen them for a long time, lots can happen to change people over time.
Life events and experiences can really change people. Sometimes we find people have passed away too. So, preparing for those outcomes can stand you in really good stead for the future.
We would recommend having someone in your life that knows you are attempting to find and contact someone from your past. That way you have someone you can talk to and lean on if you are feeling sad or vulnerable during the search.
Be careful with Facebook groups and people who offer to find your person for you without considering your wellbeing or your persons. We have seen so many disasters when personal information is handed around without thought. You wouldn’t get that with us.
Good luck with your search and we hope we have answered, how do I find someone I knew a long time ago?