A New Zealand private investigator is warning that the involvement of well-meaning enthusiasts and entrepreneurs who try to reunite birth families – as a result of recent publicity and TV programmes – is doing more damage than good.
Licensed private investigator and CEO of Moratti and Associates, Rod Moratti, said today that heartbreak and disappointment are often the results when the ‘first contact’ is not managed with professional empathy and compassion for all the parties involved.
“I am concerned when I read of well-meaning people – and others who want to exploit a business opportunity – who do things like put up websites to help adopted family find each other. For one thing, nobody knows the circumstances of the adoption or the potential damage that can result when the past barges into someone’s life.
“Contact is a threatening situation. For example, was the pregnancy consensual? Has the birth mother told her family and friends about the adoption? You can imagine the shock when a stranger claiming to be family calls or turns up on your doorstep.”
Mr Moratti started helping reunite adopted children and birth parents – and others who lost contact as a result of circumstances like relationship break-ups – after tracing his mum’s birth mother more than 20 years ago. He has since reunited dozens of client families over the same period.
“For any mother to give up her child is traumatic. Very often the parents – even adopted children – will have locked away those emotions for 20, 30 or 40 years. They may have kept the adoption a secret.
“Birth parents and children who were adopted need time to make sense of what is happening. They need to prepare themselves and sort through their emotions, perhaps even break the news to families and friends.”
Mr Moratti said it’s not uncommon to come across women who have not even revealed the secret to their husbands of several decades, let alone their children.
When contact occurs, it is important to remove any perception of a threat. The first thing people wonder is ‘why now?’ ‘What does this person want?’ ‘Are they angry?’ ‘Do they want revenge?’ ‘Do they want money?’
“It is important that you prepare a pitch that explains who you are and why you want to make contact.
“For example, I once made contact with a birth mother who denied she was the birth mother. I explained that I was a professional investigator and the reasons why I thought she was the right person. I then told her that her daughter was married with two beautiful children and was a successful business woman. She immediately wanted to know more,” Mr Moratti said.
One of three reactions are common when lost family make contact:
- The family is elated and excited because they’ve been looking too.
- The family is shocked or disconcerted. They ask for time to think about it and prepare themselves.
- They deny any links.
“You only get one chance to get it right, and if this is important to you, nothing is more critical than a first contact that is professional, tactful, empathetic and compassionate. Excitement comes later.
“When I first made contact with my mother’s birth family, I did not reveal to them who I was, only that I was a private investigator. They later said that having a professional intermediary made the process a lot easier for them,” Mr Moratti said.
For more information visit http://www.moratti.co.nz/