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Writing our first postbox letter.(19 Posts)
Does anyone have any advice for us?
I have no idea how to start it, do we address them by names or just ignore the normal convention and go straight into the main body of the letter? Birth parents are not together if that makes a difference.
My plan was to write it as "X has settled really well since coming to live with us," followed by what she has done (birthday/xmas etc). DH suggested doing it in blocks using subtitles e.g "1st birthday" followed by information. That feel way too impersonal to me. After all we are writing to DD's biological parents. We may not know them but I feel empathy for them and want to reflect that in the letter but whilst being objective to an extent.
I am so confused. This is so much harder than I thought. I cannot imagine how it would be for birth parents.
Any help much appreciated.
Hi, I can only say what we do and see if it applies to you but your instincts are right.
No block headings, that isn't a report, it's a letter. Be empathetic and compassionate but not 'emotional'; for example I would not go into how they might feel etc.
I'd write to child's birth parent by name. Either one letter to both names sent twice or one to each name. If the latter I'd give each parent same letter content. I'd do this because I wouldn't want one parent to have more info, and it's easier.
I date the letter and keep a copy.
If writing to one name, to be clear, I might into the phrase "just so you know we are also writing to (name) and you're both getting the same information....
We do write sort of chronologically but along the lines of themes but with no headings.
So we write about school, health, hobbies, holidays etc.
We might include a funny thing ds said or did or a clever thing.
I usually end with one or two questions. Our son was with birth family for a couple of years so I might say "Can you remember his first word, no worries if you can't."
Also I might include question replies if they had asked things, not personal stuff but general.
Also, I'd start by asking how they are and end by wishing them well.
Dh and I have bog standard names so I would end with our first names, best wishes from Italian and Mr Italian. This is because they were told our first names at the start, not even sure if we were consulted.
If they do not know your first names I'd be more cautious and might use a psydonyn or nickname (made up) especially if your names are unusual or you have high profile anywhere.
Names are more identifiable together, two common names less identifiable but one unusual and one common , more identifiable etc.
Some people might use initials. You could use your middle names, I usually like that as a sort of compromise, in all kinds of situations where I might be asked my name, not want to lie but not want to use my first name! Real but not regularly used!
I do not mention any other names of family or friends. I don't mention places we go to regularly.
I keep an electronic diary and this helps me to remember.
I also have an open letter on the pc to them. I start it after they send a reply or after I send a letter. I add bits to it as and when I think of it so that when the time comes it is almost ready. It makes it less stressful to me.
Hope that helps, feel free to ask me anything.
I start Dear mummy X, we have had a lovely year......
then we talk about turning 3 , or 4 whatever age, how the birthday was, what present was asked for - eg roller skates or bike - i don't say the unusual gift but a generic one any boy/girl would want.
i say our family holiday - eg we have been to spain this year, enjoyed making the biggest sandcastle and loved eating strawberry ice cream. waffle for a bit! we also went to north england in a caravan which was nice but cold! or similar.....we wouldn't give more or a location than that.
i say if any new hobbies - eg decided to try trombone at school! or french club or whatever - again only if not too unusual and available at most uk schools.
i also say how last years hobby is coming on - eg swimming is progressing well, now in class 3 or 4, or can now swim a width without armbands. its nice for birth parents to read about progress i think.
i try to ask - did you like swimming, or trombone, he's musical i wonder if he gets that from you? or similar....to open dialogue.
i always end by we think about you often, and hope you are well. best wishes mummy X from children xxx
- we only give the children's original names - they are changed now but BP don't know that.
hope that helps.
Fantastic advice from italian. That's pretty much how I do it too. The very first one was very hard to write. They get a little bit easier with time - especially if you get a reply as you have something to respond to.
One other thing, I've found over the years that DD gets quite anxious around letterbox times. At the moment she knows I write but doesn't know when this happens so I am guessing her heightened anxiety is based on picking up subconscious stress signals from me. Now I know this I try not to get as stressed out by the process, but definitely easier said than done!
And great advice from boston too. As always, it takes me so long to type a response others have got in before me with more eloquently worded advice!
Thanks ladies, much appreciated.
She was only placed 5 months ago and is very little so not much coming from her at the moment although we have a fair bit to write about.
I am not sure they do know our first names but when agreeing to post box we agreed to sign off using a shortened version of our names. They are very normal names and we live in a different city which makes me feel safe to be honest.
We have a birth child who is loving being a big brother but I don't know if they know about him so don't think I will mention him this year.
Italian, starting the letter when/if we get a reply is a great idea.
Lucky - we have never mentioned our BC, and never will.
Lucky the birth parents know we have a daughter we refer to her as 'our daughter' rather ds's sister and never by name. The birth family will, most likely, not be that interested in her.
I write to both birth parents and also to the two siblings who are with different extended family members.
I cover the same topics in each but with the birth parents' letters i leave ourselves out so it's all x did this, x enjoyed that etc. For the sibling letters it's "we went on holiday, we all enjoyed doing x".
It takes a long time and i feel bad about it but with 2 versions and 4 to personalise at the start/finish i am typing them.
Our guidance on letters said avoid a report format at all costs.
I just address them by his birth parents by their first names.
His BPs both have learning disabilities so I try and keep to a very simple writing style. I have written four times now and have not had a response. I write like this: X really likes birds and his favourite toy is a cuddly toy pelican. Do you like birds?
I type the letter but then sign it illegibly at the bottom. His BP don't live far away and my son's name is not a common one so I am careful about giving any clues.
The first letter I wrote (the settling in one) was definitely the hardest. In the first one I was more emotional e.g. I said that I would make sure that X knew that they loved him too and that if he wanted to meet up with them when he's grown up I would fully support him. Subsequent letters have all been more factual.
Dimples, I don't think we are ready for the sentiment in your fist letter. We found out the other week that birth dad is contesting the adoption so he obviously is hoping to meet her again sooner than adulthood!
It does make it harder to write when they are contesting (I wrote two whilst proceedings were ongoing). First letter was just prior to applying for AO - also in my son's case I feel v sorry for BP. I appreciate other circumstances do not necessarily lead to such sympathetic feelings.
Obviously lucky I don't know your situation - but try and take the positive from birth dad contesting - in the future you can tell dd that her birth father wanted her and fought for her in the court, but the judge ruled that she must be adopted by you.
often BP are advised to contest too, it may not be a move in malice, but one final act of desperation, or a statement to their birth child as advised by their legal team. He probably knows he may never see her again.
Many adopted children long to hear that their BP wanted them, and fought for them.....i wish i could tell my children that.
Hi Boston, to be fair to him has fought from day one putting forward as many people as he could to take dd on his behalf. I do believe this will bring dd comfort in the future (had a debate with file over this when he said if bf loved her he wouldn't contest- I believe the opposite) but right now it is just another hurdle.
i understand, hang in there. it gets easier i promise!
We have been doing contact letters for nearly 10 years.
One clear point contrary to what boston wrote, contact letters are from Us not the children. Written from our point of view. Our children have the option to draw or write themselves (which happens some times but not others).
We address with first names, and sign off with first names.
We stick to the same length each time - 1 page types A4. (Sometimes the font size varies though). This way everyone knows what to expect.
We cover randomly development, education, hobbies, character, holidays. No headings, written in proper letter format. Not all topics covered each time (we write every 6 months).
We try not to 'rub their noses in it' when it comes to talking about holidays. e.g. If we have done 2, one in a holiday park and one abroad, we may only mention the holiday park one. On the other hand, we did mention the once-in-a-lifetime holiday we did a few years back.
We only say what is past, not future, otherwise we might repeat ourselves or plans might change.
We are honest, but with sugar coating. So phrases like 'finds it a struggle' rather than 'is completely unable to' or whatever.
Have you met the BPs? We found it easier having met as we know who we are writing to iyswim.
Thanks Sanders. It doesn't look like we will be meeting BP. Mum not up to it and SW doesn't recommend a meet with dad. I would have been keen to meet mum but DH not so.
Sanders re rubbing noses in it.....our bp want to know what opportunities they are being given - so we tell them of our summer holiday and pick one other caravan holiday that year to talk about.
Our reality is that we probably have 5 or 6 holidays as we are away every school break - but we too try not to rub their noses in it.
Our once in a lifetime holiday we did not write about....so swings and roundabouts.
Its a fine line isnt it between sharing our childrens lives and saying they are having a lovely life.....and bp knowing they could never provide all we do and feeling whatever negative emotion about that.
I feel sadness for bp nothing more.
boston I agree.
One of the things that settled BPs with the adoption is we would be able to give our DDs the stability and opportunities they couldn't. So we do want to talk about those. On the other hand, if you have a friend who is on benefits, you wouldn't prattle on about your 6 holidays (we wish), your house in the South of France (not that we have one!) etc.
It is a fine balance to tread.
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