Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Letterbox contact


The name of my blog is ‘positive about adoption’. That’s because I feel extremely positive about the process and about my adopted family. It’s also because I don’t think there are enough positive stories out there and there are two many doom-laden Daily Mail articles putting people off. However, recently a reader through Twitter asked me to write about letterbox contact. I explained to her I thought I would find it too hard to write about it. Her comment back was that if we found it hard it would give a balanced view of adoption. This is a totally fair comment, but it’s more complicated than that.

You’ll notice I never mention the name of my partner and certainly never the names or any photographs of our children. I don’t mention their ages or anything about where we live or the places we go. Clearly, their safety and happiness is the most important thing in the world to me. I write my blog because I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing our stories in a humourous way and I love the feedback I get from people who feel it has helped them in some way. It sort of gives you permission to wrestle with your other half (or yourself) on the day of panel.

This is why I have to be extremely careful writing about letterbox contact. I don’t want to reveal any details about their birth family for everyone’s sake. It’s too personal. With that in mind I have given it lots of thought and this is what I have to say. I don’t like it. I realise it is part of modern adoption and it will help us in the future because there is no great secret or story for them to discover. But every time we get the letters we are reminded of the other family. And it hurts a bit. We can’t help it. They are our children now and this is our family.

When we get the letters we always take a week or two to absorb them and find the right time to read them to the children. We are always mindful of what they’ve got coming up. For example, both kids have a sleepover arranged this weekend so we will wait until they are home again and not send them off to their friend’s houses with these thoughts swimming through their heads. We all sit together and I tend to be the one who reads them out. I try to read them with enthusiasm and make them sound light and uplifting. They sit quietly listening and when I’ve finished they slink off to their rooms to play.

There is almost always a change in their behaviour in the week or so after reading the letters. Sometimes they are extra clingy and loving, almost reassuring themselves and us. Sometimes we get bad behaviour. Obviously we prefer the former but we’re realistic enough to know we might have to deal with the latter. We get questions, which we always answer as honestly as we can.

I think if you’re about to adopt, thinking about it or have adopted then letterbox contact is more than likely going to be apart of that. Don’t let it stop you. You might find you feel differently about it. We’re all individuals and deal with things in our own way. If you have any questions talk to your social worker about it. I had a long telephone chat with ours not long ago because I was worried about the content of one of the letters. I will call them again in the future if anything worries me.

Letterbox contact never stops us feeling that adopting our two children is the best thing we ever did. It is what it is and we have to deal with it. It just feels uncomfortable and a bit difficult for a few weeks of the year. It’s still completely bloody worth it.






15 comments:

  1. Is it just one letter a year and is it an option just to keep the letters all filed away and never read them to the children but give them to the children to read once they are 18?

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  2. It is just once a year, yes. You could always put them away but then you have to much to tell them when they are older and this could make them angry you never showed them before. Teenagers have enough to be angry about, no matter what their family circumstances.

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  3. We have contact twice a year and so far haven't shown our daughter any of the letters. We wanted to make sure they continue and can trust they will arrive before we start to read them to her. I am also writing a blog about adoption for the same reasons as you, and also to act as a reminder for me. I try to make it honest and positive. Our experience of adoption is extremely positive. It's lovely to read other people's experiences. Speaking of which, I have contact letters to write this week as well!! http://www.our-adoption-story.blogspot.com/

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  4. Great, thank you. I will take a look at your blog now.

    I think every parent has to do what they feel is right. It's so hard to know what to do for the best sometimes isn't it. I wouldn't change it though, I don't think I could have created two more brilliant children if I'd tried!

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  5. Thank you so much Helen for sharing this. As a single gay man about to (hopefully) start the process. this is one thing as you described seems a slightly difficult thing to have to do, but I can see why its also important for the children. Lots of mixed emotions.

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  6. Im raymond and whont contact my girls and dont no how too please sumone hellp xx

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    1. Im realy need to no wher they are and dont no how ,,,,,,

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  7. Raymond, if your girls have been adopted out then it is the agency who did the adoption that you need to be contacting.

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    1. I have tried and the said its down to my girls to make first contact i send 1letter a year but the last 3years i had nothink back and the agency said they have moved and they dont no wher they have moved two and thanks

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  8. Then it seems there is nothing you can do for now except hope and pray one day that your girls do make contact with you. If I were you I would make sure the agency were kept up to date with any changes of phone numbers/emails or addresses you have so that if your girls do decide to get in touch (I would expect they would contact the agency as their first port of call) they can easily get in contact with you.

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  9. You are welcome, I hope it all works out well for all of you. "Modern" adoptions at least from all the people I know who have adopted in recent years and certainly our own adoption training programme places great emphasis (and rightly so) on how important it is to let any adopted children keep as much sense of their original identity as possible and to always encourage any adopted children to feel free to contact their birth family (either by letter box etc if they are younger or maybe when they are over 18 by face to face contact if that is appropriate)and so I hope that birth parents whose children have been taken into the adoption process can feel a little bit better and re-assured that the great value they have and will always have in their birth child's life will be given as input in to that child (or children's) upbringing.

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  10. Hi, I found your blog through #WASO, and I'm so encouraged to read that, despite your positive experiences of adoption, you have concerns about letterbox. I'm adopting as a foster carer, and letterbox contact is literally the only thing that has made me cringe so far, even though I haven't done it yet! I have very conflicted feelings about it, and it's reassuring to know that I'm not alone!

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  11. Edit: sorry, it wasn't #WASO - your blog was on a blog list of another blogger who was featured on #WASO (which is Weekly Adoption Shout Out by the way!!)

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  12. Thats ok and i wish ther wus a way too contacked my girls other then letter box

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