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Contacting a long-lost family member, whether it's a parent you never met or a sibling you just learnt exists, can be very difficult for some people. You may struggle with the right way to contact the family member and what words will best express how you're feeling. One option is write a letter to the family member and open the lines of communication in a non-threatening way. You should think carefully about what you want to say in the letter and exactly how you want to express your emotions to your family member.
Figure out your goal to make writing the letter a bit easier. Your goal might be to set up a meeting with the long-lost family member or to establish a pen-pal type of relationship. Your goal could also end at making the person aware that you exist and are open to talking more.
Keep your goal in mind as you write the letter. You may be tempted to start talking about your children, for example, or your job, but if the letter's purpose is to establish a meeting, then that is what the letter needs to be about. Should the meeting occur, that would be the time to talk about other things in your life.
Watch your emotional language. This is especially important if you harbour resentment for the long-lost family member, such as a parent you feel abandoned you. For now, try to keep these emotions to yourself and don't allow them to clog up your letter -- unless, of course, if that is the letter's goal.
Stop writing after about a page or two of content. Saying too much can make your letter appear convoluted and could overwhelm your long-lost family member.
Put the letter aside for at least one night to reflect on the letter's goal and what you've said. For some people, reflection might come through normal activities or during a walk. For those with a religious faith, reflection may be accomplished through prayer.
Ask someone else to read the letter if you're hesitant to send it to your long-lost family member. Share your goal with this person and ask how he would receive the letter. Be sure this is someone you trust and take his advice into consideration.
- Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images