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Stopping Letterbox Contact?

(52 Posts)
SugarPlumLairy Sat 02-Dec-17 17:48:35

Since she was 5 my daughter has been very vocal that she DOESN'T want any letters from birth parents, she doesn't want to read them, she won't write, she doesn't want me to tell them about her and absolutely NO photos. I respect that.

The birth parents letters aren't great. The Birth father is sporadic, often nothing at all. The birth mum is ....😕Not good. Just a list of personal questions followed by instructions on who to be. Honestly I don't blame kiddo at all for wanting to ignore.

The first few years I sent thoughtful updates and asked if there was anything they'd like kiddo to know about them or her early months. They never shared anything personal. Nothing. They are strangers to us, other than what we were told during the adoption process.

We know my daughters siblings from same birth mum and they have had a horrible time with contact, really nasty mind games as soon as kids engaged themselves (not mum writing).

In light of that I am even more resolved in respecting my daughters wishes, especially as she has additional needs including anxiety.

Today we received a letter from the Letterbox office asking if we are aware of the 2002 children's act and do we understand letterbox contact, why hasn't there been any. I've told them it distresses my daughter, that whilst we will keep any letters we received for her and accommodate any request she makes in future to reinstate contact, we don't feel this is beneficial to her (she is 10).

Surely they can't enforce letterbox contact can they? has anyone had any experience of this?

didyousayspinach Sat 02-Dec-17 18:36:29

What a child says at ages 5 - 10 may be very different from what they say at 13, 15, 17, as an adult. They may also currently be heavily influenced by what you and other adults around her say at the moment. FWIW I think you should continue with the letterbox agreement not least because your dc may feel differently when they are older but in relation to your legal obligations in relation to letterbox you could discuss with the people who wrote the letter to you.

SugarPlumLairy Sat 02-Dec-17 19:03:56

Whenever I get a letter I let kiddo know and she says no, don't want it put it away. What have you said about me. Don't say anything, Etc.

We put together a lovelylife story book for her and it has always been in her bedroom, we talk openly and kindly about the birth parents, she's met her related siblings who have other adoptive parents and has no problem there but we can't make headway on the letterbox contact.

I can't work out what to do for best. I understand feelings change, I do!
Initially I tried to have a caring, thoughtful exchange of information thinking this would be good for future where questions may arise but was met by a brick wall to any questions we asked and no feedback on info we provided provided. It was an oddexchangeto say least, no connection, no continuity, and I think kiddo is genuinely responding to that.

I don't want to force her or her to be angry I've written on her behalf. I've tried to broach the subject and it is the one area of adoption that she doesn't like. This year she said oh just make up a list of stupid questions and send that ( which is what birth mum does to her).

I have written to the Letterbox office but just ,wondered if anyone had been through similar. She's a really happy 10 yr old otherwise.

donquixotedelamancha Sat 02-Dec-17 19:04:36

"Surely they can't enforce letterbox contact can they?"

IANAL, but: No, they absolutely can't.

If your DD has said she doesn't want you to share then, to me, that's it; there is no other decision but to respect her wishes. Lots of adopters stop contact for a range of reasons- you are her parent's, it's ultimately your responsibility and decision. If you do decide to pick it up again at some point then you might want to be a bit firmer in expecting the letters to be appropriate.

P.S. I'm surprised they sent a letter mentioning the 2002 act. To me that feels like an implied threat; though the act only has a duty for LA to facilitate contact, nothing more (again IANAL, real ones please tell me if I'm wrong). Probably a case of a poorly phrased form letter they have to send when contact stops.

bunting1000 Sat 02-Dec-17 19:09:04

We are in the same situation with our two. They are younger but very vocal that they do not want us writing and don't want bp to know anything about them. Which tbh I completely understand! I'm struggling to see the point in writing, and absolutely will not betray my children's trust by going behind their backs. At the minute I really don't think it's in their best interests. I'm waiting for the letter from ss asking where it is... as far as I know it is not a legal obligation and no they cannot enforce it. i question whether it's really for the benefit of the children or the birth parents?

SugarPlumLairy Sat 02-Dec-17 19:31:06

Thank you!

We cottoned on pretty quickly that the letters weren't brilliant and stopped sending "nice" letters. No photos, generic all is well, happy healthy, hopeyou are well. Etc. But Kiddo doesn't even want that. We totally respect that and haven't written in several years.

I too think it's more about the birth mum, birth dad disappeared, Obviously I do what's good for kiddo. I hope your two are doing ok Bunting1000.

It was exactly the mentioning of the 2002 child's act and asking whether I understood letterbox contact that got my back up.

Honestly they can have same note each year that says " alive, happy, healthy. K thx bye" if theyre going to get arsey with me.

It's crap LA. Herlife story book was basically "this is your mum, this is your dad this is you, this is the hospital where you were born- the end" 😧 I'm not even paraphrasing!
We changed words to birth mum etc, got pictures from foster carers and more photos from the local area,parks, zoos she'd been to, fave toys, etc to make it a bit more positive etc. Colourful album with stickers etc. It was so sad.really struggle with the agency as it doesn't feel like they my girl first.

didyousayspinach Sat 02-Dec-17 20:43:15

You have said that your dc is really happy, but also that she is anxious, and she is expressing strong negative feelings which might mean that there are unresolved feelings?

Do you think your dc is hurt that she only gets questions? If so, do you think you could broach things differently with your dc, for example instead of reading out the list of questions, paraphrase what the letter has said in a way which does not upset your dc? In terms of your letter back, if it were my dc I would probably explain gently that it is better that you write letters to say all is ok, but that you will not write anything personal which your dc would not wish to be written about them. Would that work?

In relation to the 2002 act it may be that your agency was saying that if letterbox is not continued the birth mother may pursue court action for contact. That might be nonsense, but again, is this something you can raise with the agency?

I think letterbox is really hard, because it is only a glimpse and it is difficult to know how to interpret what someone has written unless you know them. I think it must be very hard for children generally, but my personal feeling is that it is better than a huge unknown.

flapjackfairy Sat 02-Dec-17 21:25:52

Unless the contact is written into the adoption order then no they cant enforce it. You are her parent and the decision is yours ? I wouldnt do it either and there is no expectation of the child writing at all as it is supposed to be between adults only .
I would stand your ground and back your daughters wishes .

nellytheelephant21 Sat 02-Dec-17 21:38:25

I'm going against the grain.... I think you should carry on , maybe don't tell your child you are doing so. I hate writing the letters etc, little one too little to know what they are atm, but will carry on so little one knows in the future that I stuck to my side of bargain. Also the letters will be there in the future if they want them... She might not be interested now but who knows in several years

Ketzele Sat 02-Dec-17 23:02:23

Gosh, what a horrible letter to get. I'm amazed, as my letterbox letters feel as though into a void. I've never had any acknowledgement from social services - when I have followed up to check they got them they say yes, they did, but they have no idea where birth parents are (v tempted to say do a quick google, I know exactly where they are). We have never received a letter from either birth parent. I keep going simply so I can tell my dd later that I stuck to my side of the bargain, though I've just realised that I missed this year's and I'm not going to lose sleep over that.

Bottom line: you have to do what's right for your child. Though if it's going to cause grief, I'd be tempted to write a standard few lines each year and don't bother discussing with your lo.

SugarPlumLairy Sun 03-Dec-17 09:35:51

Ketzele, it IS a horrible letter, vaguely threatening and in light of birth father not writing to us and birth mum playing merry hell with his half-siblings (we've met each other) it feels as though we're being accused but the birth parents are being excused?

nellytheElephant. I've never lied to my child, I will tell her that letters arrived and we've stored them for when she wants them.

Flapjackfairy, I honestly can't recall if it's written in or not, if it is then ALL future letters will simply say " kiddo is happy and healthy". The birth mum often tries to kick off to cause problems so I can see her try litigation to force contact and I won't let that affect my child's life. She has done awful, horrible things to her other kids through letterbox contact and kiddo is just approaching the age where she amped up with the other siblings.

DidYouSaySpinach I think it's exactly that, she isn't a daft girl, she has said that BM is trolling her, she doesn't like what she classes as nosey or personal questions where there isn't the relationship to warrant it.
She has said she wishes she'd been " born in your tummy mum" and we do a lot of work around that, NEVER being unkind about the birth parents because WHY would that be a benefit to anyone.

I understand saying some contact us better than it being the huge unknown, but even with intrusive contact, they remain the huge unknown 😢

Rosieproject1 Sun 03-Dec-17 10:18:47

Ultimately you are the parent and only you know what's best for your daughter. If it feels wrong, it probably IS wrong. In your position I wouldn't continue against your daughter's wishes.

This is interesting reading

Italiangreyhound Sun 03-Dec-17 14:25:40

I would not lie to my child. But I would say that I will keep up contact just so birth mum knows you are OK. Because we, as patents, would expect to know if all is not well with her.

Then I would take your dc's excellent idea of "This year she said oh just make up a list of stupid questions and send that ( which is what birth mum does to her)."

I doubt they can force you to do anything unless it is written into an agreement but why bother ruffling any feathers. I would simply write as a family with dd's help.

Eg family holiday to seaside was good. Healtheise, family all well.

Then some questions silly or otherwise.

I'd get advice from post adoption services and try use the letters as a way to explore your dd's feelings about birth mum.

OurMiracle1106 Sun 03-Dec-17 19:51:41

Legally a birth parent can apply for a contact order post adoption now. However there is no way of really ensuring how much is put into that letter. It can be a simple. X is doing really well. We are all happy and healthy. Hope you’re well. And that be it. Literally 3 lines if that.

If I was in your shoes (and I say this as a birth parent) I would be limiting contact as it sounds it could be hugely emotionally damaging to your DD. I as a birth parent always try to make sure that my letters are positive, asking relevant questions- does ds have a favourite cartoon? How’s he getting on at school?

If contact is not positive please bring this to the social worker who deals with its attention. So long as she’s permitted to get away with sending such things she is likely to continue to do so.

Birth parents like this- those that abuse contact or don’t bother- make me feel very sad for those of us who do genuinely just want contact and have our child’s best interests at heart.

2old2beamum Sun 03-Dec-17 20:41:18

I understand your feelings we had a court order for letterbox contact for DS, he is deafblind and CP due indirectly to her neglect. I dutifully sent letters and she complained about the photographs. They were beautiful but her letters to him were priceless.....are you playing football? Did your adoptive parents take you to see ?? film. I am afraid I just stopped writing and binned the letters (please do not flame me he will never (sadly) understand, but go with your gut feeling.
This is probably irrelevent but I feel better blush

Italiangreyhound Sun 03-Dec-17 21:22:55

2old2beamum you did the right thing.

SugarPlumLairy Mon 04-Dec-17 13:13:12

I understand entirely where you are coming from 2old2beamum, you have my sympathies, and I think you made the right choices, so peeps can flame me too, it's such a horrible thing to be on the receiving end of, i want to scream at the injustice of it.
How can they treat babies so poorly, with no regard for their best interests, then complain that they want THEIR rights, their wants, attended to?

I truly would facilitate meaningful contact with birth family if I thought it would be of any benefit to my daughter. I've watched her sibling being played with emotionally like a cat with a mouse. That's not for us thanks.

I got a rep,y to my letter today advising why there is no contact, it ignores everything I said and says basically, yeah sorry no one signed your letter I'll let the relevant social worker know. What??!

That's it. I am not inclined to cooperate any more, it's an incredibly inept local authority.

We'll continue to work on adoption themes with kiddo, do whatever it takes to have her assured and all questions answered to her satisfaction etc.

Thank you all for the comments and advice xx

OVienna Mon 04-Dec-17 14:18:53

SugarPlumLairy has the other family received a similar letter? I would just phone whoever sent it and find out if it sounds scarier than it is. It could be the whole thing goes away quite quickly. I guess I would want to know whether it's possible she reached out to them to ask about the letters. I'd basically want to know as much as I could about this, but that's just me. Is it easy to check what was agreed in your order?

I'd be tempted not to send the list of questions as it sounds from the other family's experience like it might agitate her. Keep it bland and don't volunteer to your DD. It sounds like if she asks about it later, she's sensible to understand that you were advised a bland letter with non identifying info was the best route?

OVienna Mon 04-Dec-17 14:19:49

sorry I missed your update! blush

SugarPlumLairy Mon 04-Dec-17 17:43:04

Lol no worries OVienna, appreciate the thoughtful advice.

Actually siblings are in opposite position. They HAVE kept up a lot of contact, they have been asking for closure on a number of issues and pursued all the correct avenues, as the time approached for answers from BM she has dropped contact and apparently can not be located (likely holed up with someone but intent on not cooperating with anyone).

This is why I utterly support kiddosdecision to not have contact. The woman is a nasty piece of work. Truly.

Lovebehindthefool Mon 04-Dec-17 21:44:01

Would your daughter understand if you told her that it might cause trouble if the letters stopped? Explain that it would make life easier to send a simple “she is well, hope you are well” letter and give no other personal info? I feel for her and you. I’ve only done letterbox twice. Bm has been really appropriate, sending polite and short letters (with zero questions though). BF sent 5pages if questions this year. I was overwhelmed.

SugarPlumLairy Mon 04-Dec-17 22:38:51

Lovebehibdthefool. I aunderstand what you mean but I don't want to teach my daughter that somebody else's "want" is more important than her "needs", or to roll over to make things easier for anyone.
Lawd hope that doesn't come across as snarky but I think it's tough for girlsgrowing up kwim?

we really have no idea what this daft, vaguely threatening letter is actually about yet, but If this woman is disappearing from one child's life andplanningto setup in MY child's life to get her controlling, narcissistic kicks she's out of luck. I'm happy to advocate for my daughter.

Good luck with letterbox contact, set your boundaries early andstick to them, I certainly wouldn't entertain 5 pages of questions, that's the sort of thing BM was doing to us.

dimples76 Mon 04-Dec-17 23:08:52

I have been writing to BPs for three years without receiving a reply. My plan is to continue writing until 18 but not discuss it with my son - I cannot see that another rejection would help him but I want to keep the lines of communication open in the unlikely event that they want to get in touch.

I think it's quite a tricky situation - trying to respect your daughter's wishes but factoring in that she may not always feel this way.

The LA's letter seems insensitive and v poorly thought through

Italiangreyhound Tue 05-Dec-17 08:17:14

OVienna has excellent advice, Vetter than mine!

I don't think a bland letter once a year is teaching your child that you have to do what others want, this bland letter I'd not what birth mum wants. I think it teaches the skill of appearing to comply without really cpmplyong.

I would, personally, not make waves. But wish you all the best OP. Keep talking of it helps.

SugarPlumLairy Tue 05-Dec-17 08:48:27

Italiangreyhound, your advice was good. 👍😊
I really appreciate everyone's comments, sometimes I have so much rushing around in my head I can't make hadnor tail if it all. It has helped to be able to put it out here . Thank you all.

If I am absolutely required to continue with contact it will be the bare minimum. There will be no additional info or photos beyond "kiddo continues to be happy and healthy" no details. We just don't need the drama.

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