After writing and publishing the story of how I found and met my father in Myths of the Fatherless, I began writing articles and blog posts about it in order to reach out to others. After publishing an article, “Tips for Meeting Your Father for the First Time” I was contacted by a dad who was going to meet his daughter for the first time and he asked me if I had any tips for that. So after thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me, as a daughter, I began to write down these tips and shared them with him.

In discussing some of this dad’s particular circumstances, though, I came to realize that first and foremost you should do what feels right for you. And while mulling over what that might be, here are some things to consider:

  1. Use a third party to locate the missing family member

It’s not always easy to locate a missing father or daughter by yourself. If all else fails you can hire a private detective to do this for you. But then you may want to do the actual contact yourself. A private detective may be off-putting for a father or a daughter. However, one option is to locate another family member who may make that initial contact for you by forwarding an email or letter. Be sure to include your contact information in it.

  1. Write a letter as your first means of contact

While there is the possibility of making first contact by using the telephone, expressing your feelings in writing allows you to make sure you’ve said everything you meant to say in the way you meant to say it. Receiving a letter from you also allows the daughter time to think over what you’ve said and to process it before responding. Communicating through writing at first can help ease an otherwise emotional situation. This is the time to tell her something about yourself and to tell her you’re interested in knowing about her.

  1. Show interest in your daughter and ask questions

A phone call can get everything off to a wrong start if, out of nervousness, you find yourself rambling on about yourself or your other kids. Not asking about her and listening to you talk about your other kids is the last thing the daughter wants the first time she hears from you—or even the second or third—especially not at the first meeting. In a child’s mind, she may only think of you as “my dad.” While some part of her realizes you could have other children, she needs some time to bond with you on a one-on-one basis. Be her dad for awhile—there’s time to introduce the rest of the family later.

  1. Share your feelings openly and honestly

The question in your daughter’s mind—whether spoken or unspoken—is, “Why weren’t you there for me?” Giving an open, honest explanation is important as well as not being defensive about whose fault it is. You need to take responsibility for your part and to be sensitive to your daughter’s feelings—not in defending yourself. What she wants to know is that you love her and that you’re sorry you missed out on knowing her.

  1. Persevere in love

Hopefully, these tips will help get you started on beginning a long lasting loving father/daughter relationship. But don’t be surprised or give up should you encounter some bumps along the way. It’s an emotional situation and you may run into obstacles along the way. You may also encounter roadblocks set up by those invested in this relationship not taking place. My father and I had a few issues to overcome, but by setting loving intentions, we were able to work through them all and now have a loving father/daughter relationship. It took a few years, a lot of tears, and prayers, but it was all worth it.