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Letterbox contact(7 Posts)
First of all, apologies for the long post.
DD aged 2 1/2 came to us at 9mths having been in foster care since just after her birth. She met her BD only 3 times as he was not initially thought to have been her father and did not want contact until that was proven. We met her birthmum before the Adoption Order was granted but was advised by SS not to meet her birthdad as he could be very aggressive (they are now both with different partners but remain in close contact with each other and share information). It was agreed with letterbox that the BPs would write to us first as BM said at our meeting that when she asked questions in her letters to other adoptive parents (2 other older siblings are also separately adopted) she had to wait a year for the answers. Anyway BM duly sent her letter in on time in September and all was fine. No letter from BD so in October we just sent a general update letter to him anyway with same content. We just heard from SS that BD replied to our letter in December but that they had only just found it! They forwarded it on and it was actually 2 letters - One was a polite but curt letter addressed to us just requesting a photo next time (not something we agreed to) and the other was a very long, emotive letter addressed to his darling DD saying how he had been waiting for her letter for months, desperate to hear from her and signed off with lots of kisses from ‘her Daddy’. I must admit that this has really got to me. I naively thought that the letters would be just between the adults at this stage and was hoping to share with DD as soon as she is old enough. His letter is very misleading and would just confuse her - DH is her daddy! SS have said that they would tell him next time to just sign his first name but this will most likely anger him.
The second issue I have is that we have minorly changed DD’s given name (think Katie instead of Kadee). In our initial letter we continued to use Kadee but I am conflicted with this. Presumably at some point DD will be contributing to our replies and will want to know why she can’t use Katie. I also feel like we’re lying to BM who has been perfectly reasonable throughout the whole process and the longer we don’t tell them the worse it will be. DH thinks we need to keep using the old name to remain anonymous to BF.
I guess my questions are is it usual for BF to send those sort of letters directly addressed to DD and what name should be used in the letters if your DC contribute to them?
In my experience BF do not reply to any letters sent, that is not to say it's a general rule for all though.
Just keep going with the letter with birth name . Your LO might not want to write or be involved with writing a letter even when they are old enough and you might end up just carrying it on yourselves . It's important you do continue with the agreement your end even if you get no reply.
If your child is old enough to contribute then I imagine your child would be understanding about the adoption a bit. You have to keep in mind that the child gets conflicted emotions about being adopted and some of it will be targeted at you even though it's not your fault and contributing to this is too much to handle . You could explain they knew you as Kaydee and that is what we will call you in the letter . Especially if you need to keep them safe. When they are old enough for SM it all becomes a bit of a nightmare if they start looking for BF without telling you etc.
Yes it is normal for BF to send the letter direct to the child, after all that is the person it is about and not you all as a family, harsh as that sounds. The BF often do not reply because it is too hard and upsetting for them, of course there are others reasons for not replying. We have only had one reply in many years.
Why did your letter box coordinator allow these letters to be sent to you is the question id be asking - I'm a birth mum. My LA advise that letterbox is between the adults involved though I address mine to Lucy, Fred & Darren (not real names) to include LO. I do express my love and care for him but in a "I'm so pleased to hear he's done so well at X" way rather than overly smothering letters. Seriously your letterbox coorindator needs speaking to. None of what you describe is acceptable
I naively thought that the letters would be just between the adults at this stage and was hoping to share with DD as soon as she is old enough
That's not naive, that's best practice. You have a problem with you LA- they are not very good at contact. They really shouldn't be loosing letters for months and they absolutely shouldn't be passing on inappropriate letters. Some thoughts:
1. Get the details of the arrangement nailed down thoroughly. We had similar issues of letters not being passed on. We now get an acknowledgement that our letter is received and that it has been passed on- so we know to check if there is no reply a couple of months later. It took a lot of pushing against vague answers to get it all sorted.
2. Personally I would not participate in letterbox if inappropriate letters are passed on. At the very least the SW should have contacted you to discuss the content and really need to speak to BD and lay some ground rules.
This is a personal judgement call, but it must be a situation that you are comfortable with in the long term. We accept letters from some family members which are also addressed to the kids, but we have met them and they are also very supportive. No way I would accept a letter addressed solely to my child, asking for photos, or which might be upsetting.
3. I would absolutely not use your child's real name in the letters. I would keep to the birth name and get explicit commitment from the LA not to share the new one.
4. I think you should be careful about what age, and how much, you start involving children in contact. It really should be led by them. You don't need to make adoption into a big issue if your DD doesn't want to. It should be open and honest, but also low key and normal. I was not interested in seeing my adoption material until I was in my 30s and would have been upset if I'd seen a letter from my BPs claiming parenthood as a teen.
Yes it is normal for BF to send the letter direct to the child
There are exceptions, such as Northern Ireland; but in my experience it is unusual and considered poor practice for this to happen where a child is adopted young. Obviously much more common where the child is older and there is a relationship.
Thank you everyone for your replies - will speak to the letterbox co-ordinator
My first letter I addressed to miracle miracles Mum n miracles dad (all first names) but wrote as if I was writing to him as I hadn’t been told otherwise. So things like I hope you had a nice birthday. How are you enjoying x? Is y still a favourite tv programme? But was told I should write to his parents which I now do. I sign off with love (insert first name of me) and a few kisses. I address to all of them as I did in first letter n will continue to do so as I haven’t been told it’s inappropriate and don’t see it is.
My ex I think Had contact at one point whether he maintained it is another matter.
Also as a birth Mum I can assure you it takes a lot of chasing to receive my letter and they can still sit around for weeks waiting to be checked (which is then done when I go to collect whilst I wait an hour downstairs) 😡
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