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Direct v Indirect Contact With Family

(26 Posts)
LS2142 Sat 02-Jul-16 11:38:06

Hi, we are finishing stage 2 and have been asked whether we would consider direct contact with 1. Birth parents, 2. Birth siblings 3. Grandparents 4. Extended family.
We have accepted the fact that indirect contact will probably be a part of the package but aren't too keen on the idea of direct contact. I was just wondering other people's opinions and experiences, as maybe we have missed something and we want to do what is right for the child / children.

Also any thoughts about keeping in contact with the foster carer ? Either direct or indirect?

Thank you X

RatherBeIndoors Sat 02-Jul-16 11:52:11

I would say exactly the end of your post - that you would consider all aspects carefully and make the best decision for the child. For some children, it won't be recommended due to a high level of risk of harm. For other children (perhaps older?) they may have a stable pattern of contact with GPs or siblings that is safe and adds to their stability. To not try to sustain that could add another loss to your child's already significant losses - but it won't always work. It's a highly complex decision, but I guess for now the SWs just want to see what your general approach and thought processes are.

With foster family, I'd take into account the child's age and how long they had been with them. At least one post-placement meet-up tends to be recommended and then you go with your gut about whether anything more is beneficial or unsettling for your child. It can be good to keep that door open through occasional emails etc, in case your child has later questions the foster family might be able to help with.

Illias Sat 02-Jul-16 12:13:39

If your adopted DC have siblings, SWs will almost certainly want to know that you would be willing to consider direct contact. I think they think it kind of speaks to how willing you are to recognise your child as having a history and relationships as distinct from your own family, or whether you want to forget about them asap. That may not be your attitude, but SWs want to be reassured that you will continue to reflect and support your child's history and identity to them as they grow up,and direct contact is one of the things that would facilitate that. My two biggest questions re. direct contact were always 'is it safe for everyone involved?' and 'is it beneficial?'. If the answer was yes to both those questions then I'd consider it.
That said, I don't think I would have been able to parent a child where there was regular, on going contact with BPs. This seems a different kind of contact to me than with siblings and other relatives. I would be questioning at that stage whether adoption was really the right pathway for that child, or whether long-term foster care or SGO might be more appropriate. That's just my feelings on it though, and someone else may think differently.

CrazyCatLaydee123 Sat 02-Jul-16 19:00:18

Have you done prep course yet? I was against the idea of contact before we did ours, but hearing from adopters and adoptees changed our outlook.

Italiangreyhound Sun 03-Jul-16 03:19:02

LS I agree with everyone's views here. I'd just like to add we have kept a really good ongoing relationship with foster carer and see her and her birth daughter twice a year. Her family fosters many kids but she always makes time for us! Our son is happy to see her but that fussed now. i just want to keep her there, in our family circle so if he ever has questions we can be in touch. I helps that she is amazingly lovely and did the best job ever in caring for our son before he came to us. She cared for him for quite a long time (just over a year) and she was ace.

Of all relationships you mention i would say that siblings would be top and i would do all I could to maintain some contact with siblings if our son had any birth siblings.

My views on contact changed after doing the prep course. But I agree with Illias with regard to being unsure why contact with birth parents would continue after adoption.

Italiangreyhound Sun 03-Jul-16 03:20:43

why direct contact with birth parents would continue after adoption.

We have letter box, although that seems to be breaking down now, quite early on (not our choice for it to stop) but it appears to be.... (sadly)...

Kr1stina Sun 03-Jul-16 05:38:21

What Lilliias said

I know lots of adoptive families and the only contact arrangements that held up long term were with siblings adopted into other adoptive families and with foster carers.

IME All the arrangements set up with birth family member didn't continue because BF repeatedly didn't show . Thsi seems to happen once the family accept that the child isn't coming home, so contact seems to be about " getting the child back " from SS .

I find this sad and I struggle not to Judge. But then I remember that 50% of non custodial fathers stop seeing their children within two years, So it's very common and not unique to adoption .

I don understand that it's very painful for everyone ( the BF, adopters and child ) but it's hard for the child not to see it as yet another rejection . But that's the story of many of our children lives - the child is expected to see things from the adults point of view and not vice versa.

LS2142 Sun 03-Jul-16 11:46:28

Thank you everyone for your replies, they have been very helpful!
Yes I am guessing at this stage as there is no actual child in the pipeline, its just our thoughts and approach the SW is looking for at the moment!

Yes we have done our prep course and to be honest this totally altered our line of thinking....before we were going along the "we need to cut all ties" route. Now we realise how beneficial a potential meeting or contact could be.

I don't understand either why they would remain in contact with their birth parents following adoption, its on my questions for the SW.

Thanks again x

LS2142 Sun 03-Jul-16 12:11:56

Me again x

How exactly does letterbox contact work?

Kr1stina Sun 03-Jul-16 13:07:06

There's an agreement about how many letter are sent , usually something like once or twice a year. Adopters and Bm member write the letter and send to SS, who pass it on. So neither knows the others address.

In practice , what happens is that only one party stick to the agreement and goes on writing letters into a vacuum for years , not knowing if they are ever received or read .

BTW Don't tell SS I told you this as they don't like to admit it . Just smile and nod at whatever they tell you

There's usually an agreement about photos as well eg no photos or photo only to be seen on the SS office and not copied . Sometimes not properly policed .

This is because a few BF members have put photos all over social media or used them to theaten the child's safely . So all the decent Bf members ( the majority of course ) miss out :-(

researchbookworm Sun 03-Jul-16 14:13:13

Just to say that direct contact with BPs might be an option if they had voluntarily relinquished the child (very rare), or had been unable to care for them due to learning difficulties etc but didn't pose any other risk to them. I think that's also extremely rare in the uk.
For what it's worth, we agreed to direct contact when discussing it at the end of stage 1 and our SW said at the time that it was v rare for adopters to be open to it.
We did subsequently meet our AC's birth mum during intros and later our SW told us that that we were actually the first adopters she'd had that had done that, despite it being something SW encourage (assuming it is appropriate and safe).
If you can be open to it then I would try to do so (there is quite a lot of research that shows that direct contact can lead to a better outcome when the child is grown up) but in practice it's extremely unlikely that this would be suggested when you are actually at the stage of being matched.

LS2142 Wed 06-Jul-16 11:38:08

Just a quick update really. Saw the SW yesterday and asked in what circumstances would we remain in direct contact with birth parents following the adoption? The answer was that she had never experienced a case like this but it would be in a situation where the birth mum had special needs/ learning difficulties and she was fully aware she would not be able to look after the child. I'm glad I spent so long deliberating over the question...only to be told it is highly unlikely to ever be a reality anyway. hmm

Kr1stina Wed 06-Jul-16 21:41:47

Well hopefully you are less anxious about it now you know it's not very likely. Onwards and upwards :-)

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sat 09-Jul-16 16:17:13

We have been doing twice yearly letterbox for 9 years, and have always received a letter back. So it can work.

jellyfishschool Sat 09-Jul-16 21:21:43

​Hi OP, i see that you have been told that it is unlikely, but if you are still interested, below is link to a discussion about face to face contact - there are a few comments and someone linked some research done by a UK university about face to face contact:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/2503879-face-to-face-contact

FWIW I was adopted and I think in my case face to face contact would have been the right thing to do. As an adult I have a relationship with both bio and adopted families.

meworthit Sat 09-Jul-16 21:44:31

Ok so I'm going to put my neck on the line here as it seems from the thread there may be a few misconceptions about post adoption contact.
I'm a Social Worker and I work with children who have a care plan if adoption. I then progress this through the court for the child leading to the child being freed for adoption either with or without parental consent. I then try to find an adoptive match for the child and then place the child with the approved adoptive carers. Then it goes back to court for the final adoption order.

Adoption is VERY different to what is was like years ago. Children are told and included in the process every step of the way. Most know they have a birth family & are given information about the birth family. Contact with birth family can be very important for an adopted child. It is a link to their identity and can help them understand why they are adopted. Rather than imagine a wonderful birth mother who will come looking for them one day, the child from an early age has a realistic understanding that birth mum can't look after them due to mental health, addictions, poor lifestyle choices (these are the usual reasons)
Contact can be indirect in the form of letters , cards or pics. Contact can also be direct face to face. This could be once, twice or three times per year for an hour.
There have been times that the courts have ruled that contact in some adoption cases should be as high as six times per year but that's not the norm.

A child who has been adopted has a dual identity, their life with the birth family before and the life with the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents that can fully support the child with their dual identity will usually reap the benefits over the years with the child

As part of the assessment process sws ask prospective adoptive carers about their views re birth family contact. We need prospective adoptive carers to think about this & be honest. If it is something that you think you will struggle with you need to say. That way when it comes to matching you with a child , your views will hf taken into consideration and you wouldn't be matched with a child with contact. Although I have to say most do have some form of contact.

Be honest and have indepth discussions with your sw who is assessing you. Sometimes this can influence approval however

meworthit Sat 09-Jul-16 21:47:05

Just to re clarify .... It's more likely than not that Children who are being adopted have a form of ongoing contact with birth family

Pheobe1 Sat 09-Jul-16 22:58:55

Out DD is 9 and has always had direct contact with her BM. We meet up for a coffee and a chat twice yearly. Two years ago DD asked about her BF so I arranged a meeting with him. I think if it can be done safely it can be a very positive thing for the child.
It shows you are understanding of their past history and accept they do have another family. My DD has no illusions about her birth family, she understands BM has learning difficulties and could never have successfully parented her.

TearingDownTheWall Sat 09-Jul-16 23:08:48

Meworthit, I'm not sure I understand your point about misconceptions. Are you saying direct contact is more common than has been discussed here? Adopters here are from across a spectrum of time but the vast majority are up to date with current reasons for adoption and come from a recent background to adoption rather than the past when children were relinquished.
In the UK, indirect contact is by far the most common form of contact.

meworthit Sat 09-Jul-16 23:43:39

Tearingdiwnthewall
In my experience as a sw in recent times the trend is for ongoing contact with bf and yes this is also direct

TearingDownTheWall Sun 10-Jul-16 00:20:46

I'm surprised by that meworthit. I've adopted in the last 3 years and haven't met any adopters with direct contact - for example a recent course I went on with around 40 adopters and none of us had anything beyond letterbox. I've seen threads elsewhere discussing direct contact but it was always with older children where there was strong familial links and very limited.

TearingDownTheWall Sun 10-Jul-16 15:19:45

direct contact

The link above from 2012 talks about the typical UK contact agreements and confirms indirect is far more common than direct. I think the 2014 Bristol research into adoption breakdowns also had some stats on contact arrangements.

OurMiracle1106 Mon 11-Jul-16 09:36:18

I'm a birth parent. My son was adopted just over 3 years ago. I know a previous poster said that it tends to be one sided contact however my experience as a birth parent leads me to believe that it's more a break down of communication on social services part. Unless I actively and repeatedly chase my contact I don't get it. I can see how birth parents give up, I'm lucky that I don't suffer from addictions or learning difficulties and can chase but other birth parents aren't so lucky.

I would love face to face but that hasn't been possible. However I'm glad I got to meet them before the adoption order as if i hadn't i would have seriously considered contesting it

Kr1stina Mon 11-Jul-16 09:54:10

I agree miracle, I know several adopters who had trouble getting letters out of SS. They know they were there , they offered to go and pick them up but they still had to wait months or even years .

In one case, the SS lost the only copy of an important letter from BM, because the SW took it home , went off sick and then resigned.

I can't think of any other job where this would be considered " unfortunate " instead of a matter for disciplinary action angry .

I think there's definitely an attitude that SS are doing adopters / BP a favour by facilitating contact and they should be grateful for what they get . Rather than it being part of their job ( for which they are paid good money by the tax payer ) .

I also suspect that some workers make judgements about the worthiness or otherwise of adopters and BP and subconsciously delay things to punish the " undeserving " ( that is ungrateful ) people.

I know one A mother who was told by her SW that she had a letter for her ( child ) from BM but wasn't giving it to her because she was so upset at the moment ( the A parents had complained about something ) . So the child was punished because the parents had voiced their concerns about SS.

Unfortunately nothing could be proved because anything SS do is a matter of " professional judgement " . I suspect this happens a lot.

It's very distressing for everyone concerned sad

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Mon 11-Jul-16 15:03:36

I monitor/remind/poke ss to check that letters have been sent, they have followed up on questions b family have asked and we have answered etc. If I want my child to have meaningful contact with b family I need to make sure that the contact is meaningful to them as well...

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