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.