A younger patron came into the Mesa FamilySearch Library yesterday and wanted to look for his ancestors. I decided to get him started on FamilySearch Family Tree and he finally got registered and into the program. In a very short time, he had his parents' names. That was all. Both were apparently living. I suggested that he may want to enter the name of at least one dead person to get started doing research. He said he didn't know any of the names of his grandparents. In fact, he did not know if his parents were alive or not since he had no contact with them since he was very young.
I decided it was not appropriate to ask many more questions, but I suggested that he needed some kind of lead to determine his parents' ancestors. What would you do in this situation? I have found that this situation is far from unique. A variation is when the person is adopted and has only recently discovered his or her blood line. Occasionally, we get an inquiry about finding the blood line parents even before they have been discovered.
Genealogy is definitely the search for dead people. As it turned out, I suggested that the young patron look on Google for his father's name. Within a few minutes he found is father living in another state. I left it up to him to take the next step, deciding whether or not to try to contact his biological parents.
Finding one's biological parents involves more than just research. It is usually an emotional journey that the researcher may or may not want to take. Since the motives for searching are complex, the reasons why a person would or would not want contact with the estranged parents are even more complex.
Depending on circumstances, finding a missing or unknown parent can be as trivial as a short Google search or as difficult as a lifetime of detective work. In some cases, finding a parent is nearly impossible. For example, a foundling left on the doorstep of a family or church in a large city. But in many cases the missing parent or parents are discoverable. In one case we discussed yesterday, the mother gave birth to a child out of wedlock and never disclosed the father. This is not as impossible a situation as it sounds, depending on the size of the community, the place and time the event occurred.
I really wish there were one standard methodology for finding unknown parents of live people, but that is not the case. Each set of circumstances is unique and must always take into account the feelings of the person involved in trying to locate the parents. But one thing is certain, in our highly saturated technological age, unless the parents were really trying to hide, by changing their names and other identifying facts, they can be found and it might be a simple as a Google search.