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Direct contact with extended birth family....your thoughts?(13 Posts)
Another few questions for you all!
I've been asked to consider a very young child where annual direct contact with some birth family members has been recommended. I have a feeling this is for the benefit of the birth family rather than the child though...
What are your thoughts? What would have to be in place for you to accept this? Is there anything in particular that would concern you about direct contact arrangements? How should this type of contact be worked out?
Thanks again in advance
If my child had to have contact I would consider it if it was....
siblings, especially where there was already a relationship
grandparents/aunties/uncles if it was beneficial (e.g. they had cared for the child and were significant) - if the child is very young I am not sure if this would be the case
other family members it would really depend
I am not sure I would feel comfortable (Personally) with birth parents except in a siltation where birth parents would in no way be a 'threat'. How you analyse or judge a threat, I am not sure!
I would be very wary if I felt there was any risk, confidentiality, negative stuff for child etc.
I would not be happy if there had been any kind of abuse and I would be wary if there had been neglect, although curiously in the case of a birth parent with learning difficulties who had done their best but been unable to cope I may be more open if:
I felt it was definitely in the child's best interest
It would continue if the child wanted it to (e.g. birth parent willing to commit)
Could stop if child wanted it to stop
Was at a time and place that was convenient for me and for me to take them and bring them back
If I am honest I would only really consider it if I was present!
These are all totally my own vague thoughts and based on nothing more than my opinion! So feel free to ignore!
Oh and it would have to be fairly infrequent, once or twice a year at most. Unless I found it was very beneficial and actually (in the case of a family featured on TV where the sister had been adopted and met her two fostered sisters and the adopter felt she developed a relationship with the siblings) something I wanted to engage with too.
If the siblings lived with birth family and the contact was in a contact centre I would feel very differently to a sibling who was adopted or fostered and we met in a soft play place or a day out!
That is waffle but basically I would need to be on board emotionally and mentally for it to work (for me)!
A few quick thoughts:
The SWs should be clear what benefit there is for the child.
The family member must fully support the placement and you as parents.
There should be no risk that the family member may bring other less desirable people to the contact.
If the child is very young then I assume he/she has no relationship with these family members? If this is the case I wouldn't be happy as like you said it would be for the benefit of the family not the child and that goes against everything you get told in adoption! If the child was older and had, for example, lived with Nana for a time but Nana was unable to continue due to poor health then that would be different.
I think an awareness of or relationship with siblings could be useful for a child even if they have not lived with the child etc. I am not sure I would go as far as to say this for grandparents who may not (sorry to be insensitive) be around when the child is older but a sibling will always be a sibling even if they grow up separately and they will know of them so meeting them, even if only occasionally might be of value to the child themselves and not just wider family
Thanks everyone, it's really useful to hear your thoughts. We're not talking about birth parents here, it would be direct contact with some siblings and some extended birth family members. I think I would be able to cope with this but only if I felt happy that there was no risk....
So, I've been asked to consider this possibility and I think my response will be:
- I would need reassurance from SW that this contact was in the child best interests and not just for the benefit of the birth family members.
- I would want to meet these birth family members in question first, before I agreed to any contact.
- I would only agree to contact on a yearly basis with me present.
- I would only agree if I had assurance that my surname/contact details/address/location etc were kept confidential.
- I would make it clear that if I had any concerns then I would cease the contact arrangement immediately.
Do you think that sounds realistic?
We have direct contact, I cannot say here with who because I don't want to out myself
I would not have like it forced upon me though. We started writing but I always had a view to dc
Our SW, who I trusted, met them then we met for a couple of times and now we have very regular DC and DD is growing up knowing some of her BF
Ours works very well and, I hope, will help DD with her sense of identity in the future. The relationships are very natural and positive and it has been a good thing. I will pm you more info
Lillyludge when you child is older they will know their surname so you will need to be able to trust them not to say their new surname to the birth family. This may be very difficult. I would imagine most surnames are not so unusual that they would out you but I just wanted to point out you will need to be able to trust your child not to say it intentionally or accidentally. Some children are great and some are likely to do the opposite of what you ask them to do (for no other reason than it is the opposite!!!).
Italian, I had thought of that...it would be two or three years before the child was old enough to do that though...
I'm thinking that after a couple of years (and if the contact had been going smoothly) it wouldn't matter so much, I might be a bit more relaxed about it all then. Or if it wasn't going so well and I was still concerned about being sought out, then that might be the point to change to indirect contact. Does that seem like a reasonable proposition? I just want to be honest with this child's SW about everything!
I also think you need to be able to trust the birth family to not want to try and trace them even if they were told their new surname. I wouldn't trace my ds even if I did know his new surname. At the moment he still has my name as the adoption order has not yet been granted. I, personally would not wish to do anything to unsettle him. I would love direct contact and that was recommended however his new parents are not happy ro engage with such (however I'm not sure they have actually been spoken to and explored with them)
I will say I would have pushed for contact for my mum as we did live with her for a time and saw her on a weekly basis however my mum wasn't able to long term care for my son due to her own health problems and unfortunately passed away before he was even placed (she was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly before final hearing and died shortly after)
I have agreed to meet up with dc's birth parents twice a year and will do this for as long as dc wants to. I am always with him. We meet in a cafe and so far it is fine. They know their boundaries as I have spelt them out clearly. They are supportive of the adoption though which makes an enormous difference.
We have natural planned and spontaneous contact with siblings who are in fc.
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