When embarking on the difficult and emotional journey of searching for their birth family, many adoptees have understandable doubts, fears and concerns. The most consuming of these usually revolve around the possibility of being rejected by the biological relative they seek, or at the other end of the spectrum, being disappointed with whom they may find.

However, there is also another, more anticlimactic, yet very real possibility: that the entire effort of the search may have been in vain. “What if I am not even able to find them?”

This is a common thought in the back of a reunion seeker’s mind. It is, unfortunately, one of the more frequent outcomes of searching for one’s birth relatives. However, even if it should happen to you, it does not mean all hope is lost or that there isn’t something to be gained from the experience.

Here are some helpful suggestions for adoptees who didn’t have success in locating their biological family (so far).

1. Keep the door open by joining an online adoption reunion registry

The fact that, despite many efforts, you haven’t been able to discover the whereabouts of your biological family members does not mean that you never will. Even if you feel that you have no more energy, emotional strength, or material resources to continue your search, there is a quick and simple way to make sure that your search is visible to your biological family if they ever decide to look for you.

The global adoption reunion registry is a mutual-consent-based website where adoptees only need to fill in a profile with their information and whatever data they have about their adoption and the birth relative they are looking for. The moment the other party also creates their own profile on the website, a match will automatically be found. They will then be able to communicate directly through a private (and optionally anonymous) messaging feature, to learn more about each other and plan their way forward.

As the world’s central online adoption reunion registry, Adopted.com has over 1-million profiles from all over the world. So even if your adoption was international, there is still an opportunity for your birth relatives to find you there.

2. Find support from those currently around you

While searching for your biological family can sometimes feel like a very intimate process, should it not turn out successful, do not hesitate to find solace in your relationships with the friends and loved ones who are already with you. While being unable to reconnect with your past can be frustrating and painful, being reminded that you are loved and cherished in the present is a good way to help you move forward.

3. Seek professional support

For someone who has experienced feelings of abandonment or rejection, as many adoptees have, an unsuccessful attempt at finding their birth relatives can feel like another loss and reignite these feelings.

Though everyone processes such feelings differently, it is not unusual to feel that talking to friends or family about the situation can be insufficient, because, in spite of their desire to support you, they may not have the necessary training or experience to guide you on your path.

Talking to a therapist, spiritual advisor, mentor, or life coach about your experience may help you to view the situation from a different perspective. These trained professionals can help to make sense of things and find the perspective you need to overcome it.

4. Join a community support group

Sometimes being among people who have lived through similar experiences can be extremely helpful with processing emotions and figuring out the next steps of your journey. Many such groups can be easily found online, which means you will be able to share your story from the comfort of your own home with others who are in a position to understand what you are feeling and going through.

The central global adoption registry even has groups that are specific to your search situation, so you can connect with people who understand your experience on a much deeper level.

If you prefer a face-to-face community, you will find that therapists, adoption agencies and adoption-related NGOs occasionally hold meetings and events to support you. Finding a support community in your area will not only be a good source of comfort, but it can also provide an opportunity to meet new people and build friendships.

5. Try again at a later date

If you feel that you are too invested in the dream of finding your birth family to simply let go of it after a failed attempt, this is a completely understandable position. Technology evolves every day, the world is becoming more and more interconnected, and it is increasingly easy to find people from your past. This trend will likely continue in the near future.

Moreover, you never know what life will bring your way and when you may come across a new, key piece of information regarding your adoption or the biological relative you are hoping to find. You don’t need to throw in the towel in your quest for a reunion if you don’t feel ready to do so. Just allow some more time to pass and wait for a better moment to resume your search.