The best ways to prepare yourself before you try to find your biological father
Category: Better Relationships | Author: Elly Prior | First published: 22-11-2016 | Modified: 02-12-2017
Out of every 10 people, one isn’t fathered by the man they think is their father *
You know you’re that one person. You found out and now you’re looking for your biological father. Perhaps you discovered by accident that the person you thought was your biological father isn’t (or wasn’t). Or you may have been told the truth - recently or some time ago. Perhaps you even grew up feeling (or knowing) that you were somehow 'different' from your (half) siblings.
Chances are, you’ve been pulled between curiosity, the need to know and the fear of finding out. You’ll have tons of questions - anything from: “Have I inherited my nose from him, or the colour of my skin?” to “Does he also like this music, or that food?”
But, how come you don’t know who your biological father is?
- Maybe your mother doesn't know (or says she doesn’t know) who he is
- Perhaps your mother does know who your father is, but refuses to cooperate with your wish to get to know him
- Maybe the identity of your father has been a mystery for as long as you can remember
- Perhaps you’ve always known that you were adopted and you know who he is, but not where he is
- Maybe your father was a sperm donor, which you may or may not have known (if this is the case for you - watch the video at the end of this page, then hop over to Part 2)
Whatever the reason - it’s likely to come with a desperate longing to feel 'whole'. You want to find that ‘missing piece’ of yourself. You long to know who you really are. The ‘not knowing’ gnaws at you and consumes you. You’ve faced disappointments and frustration - and you’re too often confronted with what you’ve been missing. You may also have had to deal with betrayal, mistrust, lies and secrecy.
I also suspect that you’re feeling pretty ‘miffed’, disappointed and hurt that your father never seems to have bothered to try and find you or contact you.
Doesn’t he want you? Doesn’t he care? Is he embarrassed or even ashamed about your existence? Does he even know about you? So many questions, so few answers.
I want you to know that you're not alone with all those feelings. There are soooo many other people just like you. They too - for their own reasons - ask themselves: "Who is my father?" - and many do all they can to trace him.
In part 2 of this article...
- the positives and potential downfall of finding your father
- how to manage your expectations
- how to prepare yourself before meeting him
- A fillable PDF to help with your research
Just in case you needed further encouragement! :-)
What difference does finding your biological father make?
You may have been fortunate enough to have grown up with a loving ‘dad’. You may not need another dad - you just need to know about him.
You may have grown up fatherless.
Or you might have had a stepdad who wasn’t all that loving - or wasn’t a father-figure at all.
Either way, not knowing who your real father is may have left its mark...
6 Consequences of feeling abandoned by your father
You may be...
- feeling betrayed by your mother (and other family members) who may have kept the secret or lied
- feeling like you don't belong or 'fit in' anywhere
- feeling alone and lonely, even when you’re in company
- struggling to make and maintain strong (intimate) relationships
- finding it difficult to trust, particularly in an intimate relationship
- seeking validation by ‘pleasing’ men in intimate relationships and/or authority, and accepting or not seeing the damage those relationships cause you
There is something you can do for yourself right now if you would like some help in strengthening your identity.
HypnosisDownloads has a superb download to help you do just that.
To learn more about about how hypnosis can help - see my page on hypnosis FAQ and downloads (when you're ready, type "identity" in the search box).
OR CLICK HERE to go straight to the download page.
Of course, these problems may not be what originally led you to land on this page. Nevertheless, you can see why I would want to write about this topic on my relationship advice site. All of the above can have an impact on an intimate couple relationship.
So, let’s have a look at what all of that means for you and your loved ones.
I’m going to start by letting you in on what the situation may be from your parents’ perspective. It might help you to ask the right questions of the right people. It will also prepare you to be able to deal with any of their objections.
Why your mother may be reluctant to cooperate or not be totally honest
Your mother or your adoptive parents is/are pivotal in your search. Their support and willingness to cooperate will to some extent depend on the quality of the relationship you have with them. To prepare you for some eventualities, let's look at what could possibly have happened. (Although I suspect you may have already come up with a list of potential scenarios on your own).
In any case - make yourself a hot, comforting drink. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in and slowly breathe out. This is going to be the tough part...
11 Reasons why your mother might want the identity of your father to remain a secret
- Your father may have been mentally, physically and/or sexually abusive
- Your mother may have been raped by a stranger, or by someone in her own circle of friends or family (I know... this one too is really tough to consider :-( )
- Your mother may feel guilty and ashamed about the circumstances of your conception
- Your father may be or have been in prison
- You may have been abducted (it happens more and more these days)
- You may have been conceived in a ‘forbidden’ relationship (e.g. an affair, an intercultural relationship, a student-teacher relationship) - you are their 'love child'
- You mother may simply be protecting your step- or adoptive father (if indeed you have one) in honour of his contribution to your upbringing (if, of course, it was a positive one)
- Your biological dad may have been having an affair with your mum, without her knowing he was already spoken for
- Your ‘birth’ father may have had a secret love affair with your mum and he may have lied about his ability to conceive - for example, he could have told your mother he’d had a vasectomy
- He may have wanted your mother to have an abortion
- You may have been conceived with the help of a sperm donor
Why am I confronting you with all this?
Well, I’m hoping that thinking about all of these possibilities will help you suspend any judgements about your mum’s decisions. If you’re not ‘on the attack’, she’s more likely to drop her guard and be willing to talk to you about your dad.
Instead of blaming her, approach your mum from a position of empathy and understanding for her situation at that time. You’ll be less likely to set off all kinds of unhelpful defensive responses - and more likely to be successful in winning her support and cooperation.
(See also: Part 2 - Tips for your partner)
If you were conceived with the help of a sperm donor...
The following video is for you. The young woman talks to her sperm donor biological father by way of a poem she wrote, and then talks about the dad who raised her...
Why was he never there?
The following are possible reasons for his absence, not excuses! I’m merely aiming to help you to fill in the ‘blanks’.
- You father may be, or have been, convinced that he did the right thing and that you were better off without him. When you were conceived (or born) he was possibly blinded by emotions and unable to think rationally
- He may have thought he’d have a chance to see you again soon, but found that the longer he stayed away, the more difficult it became to make contact
- He may not have known about the pregnancy
- Your mother may have thwarted his attempts to stay in touch with you
- He may have worried that contact with you would have threatened the stability of his present family (remember the difference between reason and excuse!)
I realise that all the above can have a profound impact on your emotional well-being, now that you're confronted with it in black and white. You may find it hugely helpful to talk it over with a professional counsellor. You can now do so - completely free of charge for a week and connect with your counsellor as often as you like!
CLICK HERE to learn more.
Reddit: Found my real dad on Facebook...
5 Ways to help build your case
Whatever the reason was, it's time now to think about your needs. You need to know what happened. You need to know what your DNA is. And of course time is of the essence if you're dealing with an ageing parent. Your parents’ needs are now secondary to yours. However, you can be considerate of them in your search. Be sensitive of the fact that they may find this situation difficult. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for your father - it just means you might need to tread more carefully so as not to cause any unnecessary pain. If you're at all in doubt, then do discuss it with a counsellor from BetterHelp (see further down).
So here are some tips to keep in mind, and to help you stay strong:
- You have the right to find your father, and discover who you really are, what other family you have and get some closure
- A loving family would want you to have some peace of mind
- You need to know about your parents’ health problems
- You have the right to know if you have any other family, such as half-brothers and sisters
- Your search doesn’t mean you’re being disloyal to your carers, be they adoptive or step parents. But I understand your dilemma, especially if you’re asking probing questions of elderly and/or fragile parents.
Remember, your situation, just like anyone else’s, is unique. So listen to your instincts. Accept that the reactions of those around you may not be exactly what you want them to be.
How likely is it that your father is waiting for you to contact him?
- Your father may not be the person he used to be. He may have 'grown up' at last
- He may never have forgotten you - yet he may never have felt able to discuss this 'secret' with anyone
- He may be hoping for a second chance with all the joy fatherhood can bring
- He may regret his actions back then. He may have felt guilty for all this time
- He may have dreamt of having the opportunity to hold you in his arms (again)
- He may have tried to find you
- He may have done the very best he could to stay in touch
- He may not have wanted to try and establish a relationship with you for fear of rejection (yes, I understand you may find that a lame excuse!)
Why you could be in for a shock
You may have already thought about the following 'surprises'. But just in case...
You father may...
- have established another family who don't know about his past - and he may not want them to find out
- have done his utmost to forget you, and won’t want to be reminded of the past
- not be mature enough to see the see the wonderful opportunity to heal your wounds - and his and your mother’s
- insist he never knew your mother
There’s also a very real possibility that you may have built him up and, despite all your best intentions, you may feel disappointed if he doesn’t meet your expectations after all.
Just do your research, stay positive and keep alive the dream and determination to find your father
A little help with your research
I'm going to help you get started in your search with this free fillable PDF download. You can fill in all the information you find and keep it safe.
I've also included a few links to further resources at the bottom of this article, including a people search programme review.
When the meeting, or reunion, is a happy one
If you do find your father, and he’s happy to see you, you’re in for a rollercoaster ride! There will be positives - and negatives. So here’s what you can expect...
- A ‘honeymoon’ period in the relationship with him
- You may well idealise and idolise him (but these are potentially negative things, so be aware!)
- You’re likely to be introduced to a whole new family, and meet an array of previously unknown relatives
- You may feel a sense of finally ‘coming home’ and finding the missing pieces (including information about any health issues)
- A (re)connection with yourself - that part of you that you didn’t know
- Long and meaningful (but sometimes painful) conversations about the family history
- The sheer joy of seeing your features reflected in their appearance
- Getting answers to most if not all of your questions
I hope you'll enjoy this emotional story...
Don’t forget to remind yourself of who raised you, though. Who took you to the sports hall or music lessons? Who rescued you when you were left stranded? Who provided you with a roof over your head and food on your plate? Even if you had a difficult (or near impossible) relationship with a step- or adoptive parent - mother or father - you can still honour their contribution to the person you’ve become. And you can remind your biological father that someone was there for you.
The negatives, or rather... points of potential growth
If you do find your father, you may need to prepare yourself for...
- A sense of awkwardness and disconnection when you first meet, which might not ease with time
- The realisation that your new family is like any other family with its own trouble and strife
- Potential jealousy of other members of the family
- A potentially jealous partner if your dad (and perhaps his family) is all you can talk about, and all your love, care and attention are directed towards them
- Having to deal with two sides of the story - your mum’s and your dad’s
- Disappointment if he turns out not to be what you’d hoped
- A lingering doubt… “Is he really my father…?” (In this case, you might want to consider a paternity test - although approach with caution because that can be a minefield of its own.)
How to prepare yourself
I know you'd rather feel confident, but it's totally understandable and absolutely normal under the circumstances to feel scared about…
- finding him
- what to say when you meet
- not finding him
- not being good enough
- feeling rejected (again)
- discovering that he has died
- feeling let down since you’ve built him up
Looking for and finding - or not finding - your biological father is a massive deal. So of course you’ll be feeling all kinds of emotions right now!
Perhaps you already have a speech prepared for when (if) you do finally meet him. It’s possibly even been prepared in the back of your mind for years!
Be aware that the emotions can be so overwhelming that you may well forget to ask the questions that are important to you, or you might react in ways you later regret. The same counts for your father of course. You’re both likely to feel very vulnerable.
So here’s how you can prepare yourself for when you find your biological father:
- Allow yourself to feel the emotions - and remember that they won’t last
- Be prepared with gentle prods to deal with any potential ‘excuses’ as to why he hasn’t contacted you
- Rehearse your answers if it helps you to feel better (but expect to forget them!)
- Expect it to take time to get comfortable with each other
- Expect it to take time for others - such as members of your extended family - to accept you. Some may never, but that says something about them - not you.
- Prepare yourself for the possibility that your father may seem less than pleased to see you (although the chances are that you’d get a hint of that prior to actually meeting him). See my article on dealing with rejection.
- Remind yourself that you are unique in this world - there is no one else like you. You came here to share your unique talents - great and small - for the greater good and your own happiness. If it turns out that your dad doesn’t want to know - don’t blame yourself! It’s not your fault - and it’s his loss...
3 Tips for partners
- Do all you can to support your partner during their search. If your partner has never known their father, that longing to meet him isn’t something that’s ‘just cropped up’. Even if your partner has only just found out, it can’t be ‘undone’. The need to see him is very likely to always remain.
- If your partner or spouse has just found out, he or she is likely to feel as if their legs have been cut from under them. They’ll be grieving for the life they had. Why? To discover that the man you thought was your dad isn’t your dad can mean that everything else that’s happened can’t be trusted. Nothing seems ‘real’ anymore - it’s ‘all’ been a lie. Expect that to take a long time to settle.
- If your partner finds their biological dad, it may be that for a while you’re ditched from being the most important person in their life! That will pass - but they’ll still need your support and understanding throughout.
There’s nothing else to do, but research (use my free fillable PDF). Just trust your inner wisdom and let it happen.
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Disinfo.com - One out of 10 people weren't fathered by the man they believe is dad
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