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What kind of contact did you agree to?

(41 Posts)
Rainatnight Wed 01-Mar-17 22:36:49

We were happy to sign up to straightforward letterbox contact with our LO's BPs. Today, her SW visited with new forms to do with contact, asking if we'd accept photographs from BPs, drawings from siblings, etc. These were all things we hadn't heard of before and therefore hadn't really thought through what our position was on them.

SW was really quite rude (she is, anyway) and made us feel as though we were being difficult for wanting to think about it.

I wanted to ask other people what you do? What do you think is beneficial to LO? What's 'usual'?

OP’s posts: |
flapjackfairy Thu 02-Mar-17 05:49:14

Regardless of what others think i would honestly follow your instincts here because whether you agree or not will depend on many factors .
Do not agree to anything you are not comfortable with and dont be bullied.
This is your child.
We have a direct contact annually and a letterbox as we adopted our foster child and know the family well but i wouldnt want this particular arrangement myself x

flapjackfairy Thu 02-Mar-17 05:52:40

P.s. i feel photos may make the birth family too real as it were for your child and be unsettling as well as arming them with more info than they need if they decide to go looking for family in the future.
You need to consider long term imo.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Thu 02-Mar-17 06:44:56

We have annual letterbox contact, though we've never had a reply. We said no to sending a photo as we wanted DD to have privacy and as much freedom as possible. The thing I find odd about what they are asking is that letterbox, as I understand it, is between the adults and we hold the letters etc in trust for DD for when she is older and can make her own choices.

I would not agree to anything that doesn't sit right. It's not the SW who will have to manage any fall out.

chilledblain Thu 02-Mar-17 08:07:23

I think sibling contact is very important if you can facilitate it, and it is safe. I am very pro contact, though, if safe. I thought the evidence was that contact is beneficial in terms of security and identity, rather than detrimental, if safe? With social media, I'd much rather be in charge of contact, than the child seeking it themselves. Photos of Bf could be the only people your child sees that actually look like her, and they're not going to go away if you refuse contact, the bf always exist.

Only you know your child's story, and whether contact will be detrimental or positive.

But, in general, I think contact is positive.

PoppyStellar Thu 02-Mar-17 10:46:11

I have annual letterbox contact. My understanding is that PPs are right in so much as it should be contact between the adults.

Regarding photos, I'd think about the following:

1. If BPs are sending photos this could potentially be useful to your LO if they don't have any photos of BPs pre adoption. However, if you do already have photos of BPs I'm less convinced there is any great benefit in BPs sending new ones. I'd be thinking about whether you live in a similar geographical area to BPs and if so it would be a definite no for me in terms of getting updated photos from them.
2. I would say a categoric 'no' to you being asked to send photos of LO to them as this is a huge safeguarding risk (although I don't think from your OP that this is what is being suggested)

Drawings from siblings is a bit more tricky. My heart / gut feeling would be to say yes to receiving this, and be open to sending it depending on your LOs history. You don't need to make a big thing (or even mention anything) to your LO about the fact you're sending BPs a picture. Trying to see things from the BPs perspective and your LOs, if you can send and receive drawings then this could help to keep letterbox contact going - I can only imagine how difficult it is for BPs to write letterbox letters - and it shows your child that you recognise the significance of BPs. I'm not sure I'm explaining what I'm trying to say very clearly and obviously a lot depends on your LOs experiences pre adoption as to whether it's right or relevant to do this.

Whatever contact you agree, I'd recommend keeping a copy of the letters you send, a copy of any pictures you send, along with any letters you receive back. This way, when you do share letterbox contact with your LO they can see the two way communication.

Ps you're not being at all rude or difficult wanting to think about what contact is best. This may be one of those occasions you need to 'smile and nod' at the SW and then do what's right for your child. As others have said, it's you who will be dealing with any fallout.

conserveisposhforjam Thu 02-Mar-17 20:40:58

You could always keep whatever is sent for when lo is old enough to deal with it? I would be happy to receive photos, cards, presents etc but would keep the stuff until I knew/felt it would be ok.

As an adult I think I'd be pissed off if I thought I had had the opportunity to see photos of my bps and that had been taken from me. But - disclaimer - I'm not adopted so it might turn out I am talking out of my arse.

chilledblain Thu 02-Mar-17 20:49:40

Yes, just because something is sent, and accepted, doesn't mean it needs to be shown to the child then, or even ever in childhood. My DS has some cards with very unsettling messages from birth family "One day we'll get you back" sort of thing. I am glad he has them, because that's what BF wanted to have said, but he doesn't need to be shown them!

I think the issue of sibling contact needs to be considered separately to any adult BF contact, if the siblings are still children. If siblings are adopted as well, sometimes there can even be direct sibling contact, and this can be beneficial to all the children. I can't imagine what harm drawings from siblings could cause, as you can keep them in a folder if you think they're not appropriate to be shown.

I think it's important to ask why this contact is being suggested. I suspect it's also easier to agree to more contact than you like at this stage, then scale it back if it's damaging, than try and instigate contact after the adoption order, when SWs are no longer involved, especially if the siblings are in foster care or adopted.

donquixotedelamancha Thu 02-Mar-17 21:51:11

At the risk of repeating what a lot of others have already said, my thoughts are:

1. These are your kids. Contact or not, and how it works, is your choice and should be solely about what's best for them.
2. Contact is between BF and you. Personally I have accepted letters and drawings from young siblings addressed to DD, but would never accept anything from adults directed at her.
3. I would not accept letters that were critical of the adoption or weren't positive in tone. SS are supposed to be very clear about the expectations with BF.
4. I won't share contact with DD until she is ready. For us that may not be until adulthood, as she had no memory of BF. It really does depend on what she wants as she grows up.
5. I wouldn't want to receive photos, but as they are coming to you, its really about your comfort. You sending photos of DD would be a terrible plan.
6. Do be careful what you include to siblings who aren't with BPs, if they still have contact- you have to assume it will get passed on.
7. One letter, to all BF, per year is what we do. The only people we know who do more adopted much older children.

The big worry for me is that the SWs job is to protect your daughter, and to deal with the BF. I don't see how she can do this if she behaves as described. I think a firm conversation is needed. You have a placement now- you can stop biting your tongue. Advocating strongly for our kids is a big part of the job; we had to be quite bolshy about contact but I'm glad we did.

Moonlightflit Fri 03-Mar-17 08:09:56

We were quiet surprised when asked about pictures of BP'S too. There was some pressure to agree. We said no at this stage. We can always change our minds in the future. If lo wants a picture in the future we can request it then. Having said that after 1 year we've not recieved a letter either!

luckylucky24 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:39:10

I don't think I would want BP pics, especially if they are still together. I would probably accept drawings from siblings.

Our arrangement is a letter once a year. We send a pic but it has to be viewed in the office at SS.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Fri 03-Mar-17 12:52:57

We do LB twice a year, including photos both ways and card sent for DDs' for Christmas and birthdays.
BUT DD1 was 8 when placed which makes a big difference I think.

tinks269 Sat 04-Mar-17 09:48:30

We have agreed to contact between our LO and siblings. This will mean sorting out four families meeting up but our LO has clear memories of them and talks about them often. I should add none are with BM. As for pictures from them we have an open system of communication between the siblings. They can write, draw etc when they want. There is also an old best school friend who has been included in this. LO is aware that he will not see him again as there is a link to BM there (LO very frightened that BM may be able to find him so no worries around that quite yet). We weren't sure how often LO would want to communicate with siblings but in reality there is talk but no real desire to connect regularly. LO is settling into new life and they are a reminder of what was.
Our LO is the oldest and all siblings are away from birth parents. Personally we said no to photos. the dangers outweigh the benefits - We met his mum and know she would love photos but LO is too old, and does not want to be found. With the internet and social media etc we just won't take the risk.
Pictures could be quite emotional and could also carry a lot of detail you wouldn't want to share. I would possibly accept them from siblings, not send any and keep them for when your LO is older.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sat 04-Mar-17 10:15:27

Pictures are always taken somewhere neutral, e.g. on holiday so location doesn't matter.

Rainatnight Sat 04-Mar-17 13:44:53

Thanks very much, everyone. I'm interested in the differences between people who do send photos and those who don't. I can see the risks in doing so. For those who do, it would be really helpful to know where you're coming from?

For context, LO is a baby, removed from BM at birth. Siblings of all ages. Teenaged ones are apparently very damaged.

I should have been clearer what we've been asked to do:

1. Letterbox letters to and from birth parents
2. Photos to birth mother
3. Photos from birth mother
4. Letterbox to siblings (definitely from us, not sure if we get one back)
5. Photo to siblings
6. Exchange of drawings between siblings

The trouble is that these plans have been drip fed to us, so we've not been discussing anything coherent. We said a firm no to photos to siblings because matching panel thought it was risky. And we said yes to letters to siblings and birth parents.

But the other issues have just come up recently, and all of them are being really, really pushed with no clear rationale, other than that 'contact is a good thing'.

donquixote is absolutely right - SW isn't doing her job properly. I have no problem at all in being very firm. Just interested in what others do to inform our arguments.

Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
flapjackfairy Sat 04-Mar-17 14:09:44

I would be v v wary rain.
Personally i would not agree to photos at all. Far too risky. Either receiving and certainly not sending!
But letters to and from sibs to me depends on where they are. As in do they live at home with bp or have contact with them?
I see no harm in accepting drawings and sending letters to bp and sibs but that would be it.
As i said previously do not be bullied.
This is your daughter now and you have to decide what is in her best interests something that sadly seems beyond the reach of many sw.

dimples76 Sat 04-Mar-17 14:17:54

My SW recommended receiving photos from BPs so that I knew what they looked like and said it was obviously up to me whether or not to share them with my son. She also said it might help him as he grew older to see them as real people - not frozen in time (pictures in Life Story holding him as a newborn). I agreed to receive (but not send photos). I send annual letters and enclose some of his art work I've never heard anything back.

bostonkremekrazy Sat 04-Mar-17 16:11:06

I think rain any contact you get can only help build a picture for your lo to look at in the future

bostonkremekrazy Sat 04-Mar-17 16:20:04

Sorry pressed too soon (needs an edit button!)
If bf are offering letters and photos then take them for the future - you can write questions in your letters of things your dd will want to know. Eg....dd loves piano, is either bp musical etc...
And for the siblings may find dd develops similar hobbies as she gets older....if they send pictures you may find she is similar in facial features etc.

For me this has been a wonderful part of putting our dc puzzle together - we exchange photos and our 2 youngest are so so similar to a sibling placed elsewhere. I think it has brought all the parties lots of smilies to realise how alike our dc are.....and for our dc that they have someone out there who is 'like them'.

Having photos viewed at ss offices is often a good compromise if there are no big security concerns for the other siblings.

donquixotedelamancha Sat 04-Mar-17 18:46:55

"SW isn't doing her job properly"

Based on your last update, that's an understatement. It's difficult for SWs when they are the ones who see BF and deal with the fall out; but sending ongoing photos of adopted children (even just for viewing) is against accepted practice for birth removals and either the LA is weird or she's out on a very long limb.

I would address this first be speaking to your daughters SW, in person if poss. You need your SW on board and present. If you need to do it by email instead, keep the tone nice and positive, but be firm and specific. Either way, make sure the IRO is aware of the issue (even if it gets resolved), and get the final details of contact in writing (not just the LA proforma, but all the other specifics you've asked for). If you encounter resistance copy the IRO and the SWs line manager in and sort it all by email.

Contact can be very helpful; but that doesn't necessarily mean children are aware/involved. Boston's advice is a great summary of the advantages and I think it's perfectly reasonable to accept photos from BF for all the reasons she gives, if that's what you want. Whatever you decide, getting constructive two way contact with BF is really positive- many BPs are, sadly, unwilling.

Italiangreyhound Sat 04-Mar-17 21:42:09

Rain I'll tell you what was set up with us (which has worked and we stick to).

We send photos and a letter twice a year. We receive a letter twice a year.

Personally, we don't feel there is any risk but we may stop the photos in the future.

He was three when he came and has been with us almost 3 years.

There are no siblings.

I think you should agree to whatever you are happy with.

I would not pick a fight or complain about social worker. I think there is little point and they will soon be out of your life.

Anything you can agree to could change. You won't be able to control what the birth family do. Saying no to photos or drawings from them now is fine, just be aware the offer may not be made again.

I think knowing what birth family look like could be very useful.

You do not need to show your child while they are a child.

Personally, I would not want gifts from birth family. Storing age specific gifts could be a pain. These could cost birth family a lot and this also might create an 'artificial' feeling of closeness or obligation if given to child.

Drawings seem fine.

Sending photos is trickier, our child's photos are viewed at social services centre.

Contact letters are to us as adults and from us.

Feel free to ask me anything you like.

Good luck.

Italiangreyhound Sat 04-Mar-17 22:06:25

PS OP you did not mention gifts but someone else did. I've never heard of gifts being sent but I just felt I'd say that I wouldn't feel OK with it, but maybe others would be fine.

llangennith Sat 04-Mar-17 22:13:18

You are legally the parents so you do what you think is best for your child. And if that means telling the SW to sod off then that's up to you.

Italiangreyhound Sun 05-Mar-17 01:48:17

llangennith do we know the OP is legally the parent yet, do we?

I was under the impression this happened once the adoption order went through. The fact the OP still has contact with the social workers suggests this has not have happened yet.

Personally, I do not think it is ever a good idea to tell social workers to sod off. You may be asking social services for post adoption support or help in months or years to come and so best to leave on a good note.

It doesn't mean you need to agree to everything, OP or anything in fact that you are not happy with, but you also need to be respectful IMHO.

Also, as time goes on views might change. For example my son has a middle name. At the time of the adoption order or whatever it is called, he was adamant he did not like it, did not even know it and did not want it. The social workers urged me to keep his middle name. I was fairly sure I did not want to do so but in the end I did as they advised.

Now he loves his middle name and I am very glad I did not remove it. Not all social workers get it right all the time but sometimes they do.

highinthesky Sun 05-Mar-17 02:06:33

If the child is legally yours then hold your ground against the SW, but be cautious otherwise. Either way, act in the best interest of your child. You owe the BPs nothing but the increased interaction might be helpful because there will be a time when your LO shows curiosity about their identity.

I have mixed views on SWs. Good ones are worth their weight in gold, but the bad ones make me utterly sick.

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