A Last Ditch Effort
Sometimes I have to do whatever it takes (within reason) to get a birth family to reach back to me. My client really wanted a photo of his grandfather for his mother, who has been waiting her whole life to know what her father looked like. Her birth father died in 1944, a few months before she was born. My team found his entire family and he has one sister who’s alive at 94 years old. I reached out to her son, the only other living family member, a week ago and spoke to his wife. She took down my information and then ghosted me after I tried contacting her again. My client was anxious and worried that they would not comply with our simple request. So I took the next step and contacted the 94 year old sister, who was in an assisting living center. Unbeknownst to me, she has dementia.
I then spoke to the nursing staff to contact her son.
The next day, her son called me and was not pleased at with me for contacting his family. I told him I had no choice. He also admitted that if the staff didn’t contact him, he would never have called me back. (My tactic worked!) He said now because of my conduct he won’t help my client. He then texted me that my approach was unethical, and that he will report me for my behavior and never to contact his family again. I was not worried because there was nothing unethical or illegal about reaching out to birth family. My client's mother was at one time married to the aunt's brother.
Well, 3 hours later, my client texted me this!
“Thank you Jay!!! He has reached out to me and we are in conversation…AND he has sent me a picture of my grandfather. He was quite helpful. I am not an emotional guy, but seeing my grandfather and contacting someone on my dad’s side hit a spot….and this was within a week of you starting to look into this. This is something my mom has waited a whole lifetime! This is the best gift I could have ever given my mom and I have you to thank!!! Thank you!!!”
This is what I am known for. My allegiance is to my clients and what’s in their best interest. In this particular case, the family had every opportunity to get back to me and they did not. Contacting the aunt was not my first choice, but in the end it all worked out. My client and his mom now have everything they wanted to move forward with their lives.