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Deep Breath. I have got my Postbox contact 'contract'

(30 Posts)
SuzanneL60 Fri 26-Jun-15 15:28:38

Not overly overjoyed, after all the photos, some very intimate for the birthmother and O's story book. No photo exchanges. after a very rocky road with social services almost NO confidence in process as a result. If I am honest, I am only doing this for O not myself. My counsellor says I should and my son wants me to. Not sure annoys them know how hard this will be. Knowing so much has gone wrong and cannot let go. Slowly destroying me and the reason I am leaving the NHS behind.
The guidance is so vague it is a minefield. No indications of what I can or can't say- part from the obvious and demands for information re significantt events - whatever they may be and health news. Seems they want me to tell them if she has any future siblings, but surely that is not for me to discuss. Not sure why when they were never interested before adoption But Hey Ho. I have to make an effort.
So what do you guys want from a birth paternal grandparent that is unlikely to be rejected by the letter censors.
I unfortunately have little to tell that stays outside the forbidden zone. I retire, but my workplace is part of her story. My work has been my life. We were forced t move so I have no local interests were is only so many time I can tell her that I love her miss her and wish I could see her just one more time. Chances of any of this meaning anything are slim but it has to be done.
So hopefully you can help. I will take whatever you give ns try to do something with it. I have asked that O's new mum asks questions- at least then I will have something else to say. But to be told none of this will be seen by O until she is 18 seems pointless. Surrey is an awful place to deal with and have been no help so here I am. It would be so much easier if this had been refused I would not be pressurised into doing it

iwishkidslikedtomatoes Fri 26-Jun-15 18:57:13

First of all, I am an adopter writing contact letters in the other direction and I find that hard and can ONLY imagine how hard it must be for you.

I know it in some ways would be easier if it wasn't allowed but I think your Grandchild will appreciate it in the long term, so it really will be worthwhile. I imagine it must be hard not to have an outpouring of "I love you and miss you" in those letters for any birth family member, because that must be the first thing you want to say. When I started the adoption process I thought, but how can they not write that? However, it would be so upsetting for your Grandaughter to feel you were in pain or hurting when there is nothing she can do and yet her absence is causing it, even though she isn't the one who chose to be absent. When I thought about the turmoil created, I got it. Not that that makes it any easier for you sad

As for not being shown them until 18, that may not be the case, we for example are not showing our children letters while very young but that may change with time, if we think it will not cause too much stress.

If it is possible to wait for the first letter to you and then write back I would imagine that would be easier. Questions from the adopting family would be good but even if not, commenting on what is written is easier e.g. It's so nice to hear she can do 'x' now, I'm really proud of her. Also anything you can give in common. So, if she is good at spelling, then, I was always good at that, or if she loves to draw, I loved drawing when I was little, or you remember your son being that way. I say this because we drip feed information rather than show a letter, while they're so young. We'll add in a little snippet of "do you know what, your birth mum was really into X or was also good at that". And then just generally anything you're currently enjoying right now so she can build up a picture of you.

I don't know if that helps at all. Hopefully someone will come along who has had a much longer history of writing these, we're new to it and they will probably give you much better advice but hoping it's a start of some more replies smile

JamHoneyMarmite Fri 26-Jun-15 19:40:18

That is SO hard, and you are courageous and loving to be trying your best to get these letters right for your grandchild. I'm sorry you feel pressurised into doing it - I would say that perhaps you shouldn't write the letter for a little while, until you feel it's the right time for you. Your feelings matter too, and as the door is open for letterbox contact, it's OK to take your time.

I think (for the child) it's much easier to hear things like "I remember when you were X age, you did/said this..." whereas it's very difficult for a child to hear "I miss you..." because a child might feel sad and guilty about your sadness.

I agree that the adoptive family are likely to share details as they go along, even if they hold back the full letters until they feel the child is ready (whether that's 18 or sooner). So, they might like to tell the child things like what people in your family are good at, what they do or don't like doing, things that might seem "small" but help bring people alive - like did it take loads of tries to pass a driving test, or do you like doing things early in the morning or late at night, films or books you enjoyed with your children, does everyone in the family have long fingers (!) etc etc.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sat 27-Jun-15 05:53:59

I agree about commenting on the letter you receive. What about also including an anecdote about yourself when you were roughly the same age as she is now? Or one about her birth parent?

The letter doesn't have to be long, it's just a connection and in the future, she'll know you cared enough to do this.

We didn't get a reply to our contact letter and I was really disappointed for our DD. Just a short note even to say you're glad to hear she's doing well would be welcome I'm sure.

SuzanneL60 Tue 30-Jun-15 21:07:28

Thankyou.have saved comments

Kewcumber Wed 01-Jul-15 09:53:28

My son has no contact of any kind with his birth family. I can't tell you how much it would mean to him (and me) if it were possible. I do admire you gritting your teeth despite your frustration with the system because its the right thing for your grandchild and wish you all the best with it. If its helpful do come back again and talk here.

Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jul-15 18:31:02

SuzanneL60 I can't speak for your granddaughters new adoptive family but I can say we are drip feeding info about our adopted son's birth family in and he is only 4, adopted last year. So the info may well be used even if the letter is not seen until the little girl is older.

Our son was due to have letter box contact with extended family but it never got started and I am so sorry it did not.

The things I would love to hear if you were my son's paternal grandma are:
Things about your son when he was a baby, a boy growing up etc, just a few bits

Things about your contact with and experience of your granddaughter when she was a baby/younger

Physical things in your family like lots of people have red hair even if she does not, or freckles run in our family or we all have button noses etc

Hobbies or interests that run in your family like lots of people like swimming or do judo or whatever, or just all my kids or all cousins love the seaside.

These may seem like little things but they are a link to her wider birth family and to her past, which you are a part of.

I would also not aim to write the letter just once a year when it is due, if it is not too painful I would keep a word document or notepad where I jotted down any things that came to mind... eg. just remember my so wanted to be a train driver when he was a little boy.... etc. So when it comes to writing the letter it is not too hard to fill a page or whatever.

I am so sorry this is so hard for you and I hope you can feel proud that you are doing this for your granddaughter and also for your son, and, in time, may you feel some benefit to you.

Best of luck.

Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jul-15 18:35:05

PS we are drip feeding in info from birth mum and dad's letters.

Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jul-15 18:36:55

must check better!! I meant .. you might say...my son wanted to be a train driver

SuzanneL60 Wed 01-Jul-15 22:26:00

Thankyou that will get me somewhere. Will have to keep it short. I am not know for that though and will be a first.I did think milestones similar to hers might help, when you dad was your age....

SuzanneL60 Wed 01-Jul-15 22:27:05

Maybe not Dad, she will not have one unless her adopter gets married

Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jul-15 23:26:31

Suzanne, maybe the letter box contact can advise you about what to say re names. It can emotive for you and for the adopter. If it were me I would really appreciate a letter that called the birth father of our son, 'brith father' or 'Tom' or 'Tim' or whatever, or you could simply say at the start, I am your birth grandmother and my son is your birth father and then refer to him as your son. But I do think that 'birth father' or his name would be easier. My son calls his birth mum, birth mum or 'Sandra' (not her real name!) and his birth father or 'Bob' (not his real name!)

I think getting used to the names etc will be hard for you at first but eventually I think it may help you to keep it in your head in a way that is less distressing. I know I have no real authority to say that, but in some ways it may just help you to distance it all, so you can write about it in a slightly less passionate way. Our son's birth mum has mastered this amazingly well. She writes beautiful, interesting letters. I am quite in awe of her ability to do this.

I do not know if our son will ever really be able to a relationship with her, when he is an adult, but I hope he will, however limited, and it is just possible that her openness and willingness to do this (write these letters) may in the long run help this to be a possible, partly for her as he will be in her thoughts and she can actually do something with those thoughts. So although in one sense being part of a letter box scheme seems 'cruel' for birth families, in anther sense it is something they can do. So I am so pleased you are doing this. Is your son too? May I ask?

Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jul-15 23:28:51

and his birth father 'birth father' or 'Bob' (not his real name!)

SuzanneL60 Thu 02-Jul-15 16:38:22

My son is in prison sadly. The first letter he has to write is by end of September. He hopes to be out, but if not he will not be writing while there. He is not in the right mindset and he wants the letter to be positive. Social services have been quite cruel about it. But what's new. He has told them he will forward the letter once out and if it has to wait on file to the next one so be it. If he is not home, I will send and explanatory note to cover it not arriving. Explaining what he will do. We plan to use recorded delivery only so we can evidence the postings. A copy we will keep with us. If we ever get a sense of trust this will stop, just a copy will be kept for reference.
I amgrateful for the support. My sons name begins with D so he plans to sign off as D and up to the Mum to say what it means.

Italiangreyhound Thu 02-Jul-15 19:18:34

Thanks for replying, SuzanneL, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I think your son is right to wait until he is out of prison. Maybe in the future he will be able to write more positive letter. Signing D is a good idea. All the best, please ask us if we can help more, with thoughts on this, if it helps.

SuzanneL60 Thu 09-Jul-15 17:09:21

got a reply finally from LB coordinator. Letter only- No cards- No pictures (her Rose or Snowman) or mentions of BD or Christmas to send best wishes. So even if letters shared it will look like we don't care about her having a good birthday or christmas- October and December.
I phoned to ask if there was a reason, the SW we have been dealing with said We should be grateful we are allowed to send letters and will have to suck it up if they stop. That put me in my place. I get the feeling they wish I were dead and didn't have to deal with me.
Thank you every one- saw some tips on another post so will now try and make do

JamHoneyMarmite Thu 09-Jul-15 17:18:02

I think the birthday and Christmas cards "no" is standard practice, although I can see it creates as many problems as it solves. I believe one of the reasons for it is to help manage the child's expectations - unfortunately, it's often the case that letterbox contact is irregular, or happens some years and not others. It would be really hard for the child if they had come to expect birthday cards, for example, and some years they didn't come.

I think most adopters do explain to the child that the agreement through the SWs or the court was letters in X month, and to not do cards. They would explain it was not a choice made by birth family, or by the adoptive family.

Sorry you had a rotten phone call.

iwishkidslikedtomatoes Thu 09-Jul-15 17:45:15

We were told it was a standard no.

We do have birthday and Christmas card exchanges with their siblings. We sent birthday cards and went to a lot of effort choosing and personalising them with our children. We then never received any back, so we had very unhappy children... worse still, on their birthdays. Next year I'll keep to the contract of cards but I'll send them without their knowledge for a bit. It may not be that they haven't thought, it may just be too painful, who knows. But the risk of it is why I think they have a blanket no.

What was suggested to our BP's was that each year they choose and write the cards and save them to be handed over if and when LO's seek them out later. If you could choose say a birthday card with Peppa Pig, if that is what your contact letter says she loves right now, then that may be able to be linked up to the letters later. Just an idea...It was one our BP's saw as a good compromise.
I will certainly be very honest with our children and tell them this is a routine practice, so it's not that their parents chose not to but that they couldn't.

I too am sorry you had a horrible phone call sad

WereJamming Sun 26-Jul-15 16:06:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuzanneL60 Sun 26-Jul-15 19:19:40

Thank you for that

SuzanneL60 Sun 26-Jul-15 19:21:28

I will try and find a way to get the information through as best I can.

Kewcumber Sun 26-Jul-15 19:58:12

You might be lucky - social worker change all the time and its amazing the difference that a new social worker who is prepared to listen to you can make. You only have to read Anxious's current thread about how dismissive the previous social worker was compared to the new one, to see how things can change.

Of course it shouldn't be that way but if you can persevere you might get the right result in the end. Look at it this way - if you decide you can dig in for the long haul then you and your granddaughters a-parents will "outlive" all the social workers in the end.

Kewcumber Sun 26-Jul-15 20:00:10

You might be lucky - social worker change all the time and its amazing the difference that a new social worker who is prepared to listen to you can make. You only have to read Anxious's current thread about how dismissive the previous social worker was compared to the new one, to see how things can change.

Of course it shouldn't be that way but if you can persevere you might get the right result in the end. Look at it this way - if you decide you can dig in for the long haul then you and your granddaughters a-parents will "outlive" all the social workers in the end.

Kewcumber Sun 26-Jul-15 20:00:41

Oops sorry - chrome crashed just as I posted and so I re-posted.

SuzanneL60 Sun 26-Jul-15 20:09:23

Thank you Hard to be positive in light of what is going on, however I have to try. As you say SW change so one day in hindsight this will all make some sort of sense.

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