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No letterbox

(23 Posts)
Cassie9 Fri 08-Jun-18 18:50:10

My son was due to receive his letterbox contact last month. It's our first time so I'm not sure how it works. If you hear nothing does it mean family have decided not to write? Or do the social workers contact you and say we've spoken to birth family but they've decide not to write? I've emailed the letterbox co ordinator but havent had a reply. She doesn't work many hours and trying to contact her by telephone has been fruitless.
I honestly thought BM would stay in contact. She relinquished, kept to every direct contact, we communicated during that contact and she engaged really well with social workers. I feel so bad for my son if she doesn't. He's too young to understand right now but what do I tell him in the future?
I know the social workers miss placed the letter I sent and almost didn't give it to BM on time because they asked me for a second copy but then found it.
Am I being inpatient? Or should I be chasing this up?

Ted27 Fri 08-Jun-18 19:25:18

sometimes they just can't do it. My son was relinquished by dad. He hasn't kept up the contact agreements. I have met him several times. My guess is the emotion is just too much, guilt, regret, maybe its easier to try and push it aside.
Maybe the problems which caused her to relinquish are too much right now.
I think in the future you should consider theraputic life story work and address the why as part of that.
Although letterbox is supposed to be between the adults. There is really no reason why he should be led to expect it.

Its a bit different I think if the children are older at adoption and have memories of birth parents, or like my son was promised ongoing contact. We have has extensive life story work, it was very painful but my son understands why dad just can't maintain the commitment. My son is nearly 14, he was 8 at adoption so had expectations around contact that your child does not have.
It won't hurt to chase the SW. But all you can do really is keep your side of the bargain. My son knows I tried hardest.

donquixotedelamancha Fri 08-Jun-18 20:23:28

It can take months for letterbox to be passed on. It is depressingly common for it not to happen at all.

I had to chase and chase for months when it became clear (after second go) that it wasn't happening properly. Now we get acknowledgement as soon as ours is sent, confirmation when it has been sent to BF and an email when a reply is received. I leave SW a week to reply to correspondence before I email again, then a further week before contacting the line manager.

Even if it's being handled correctly it is very common for BPs not to reply, for the reasons Ted explained so well.

I'm assuming your DS is older, since you talk of him receiving it? I would work on the assumption that it will be inconsistent or absent and plan around that. As suggested above, I would avoid building expectations and treat the contact as with you- perhaps with your DS able to involve/withdraw as he wishes if it's age appropriate.

Cassie9 Sat 09-Jun-18 06:39:12

Thank you for putting it into perspective Ted27. Thank you both for the advice. Perhaps I did have unrealistic expectations about letterbox contact. Fortunately my son doesn't really have any expectations of contact right now. I now realise I should change my expectations and make sure I don't give my son any expectations around contact.

topcat2014 Sat 09-Jun-18 07:15:56

I assumed that letterbox is adult to adult, with no need to involve the child until they are in effect grown up?

As per the other thread, you are not babysitting your child until the BP's turn up again,

Firstnameterms Sat 09-Jun-18 07:17:07

I’m an adoptive parent. I send my letters to letterbox in the middle of July in the hope that bp get them at some point in August. I date my letters too so they know when they were written.they don’t date there’s but I often receive them a couple of months late. I believe letterbox is to blame for the delay.

Cassie9 Sat 09-Jun-18 08:01:06

I wasn't given the impression of letterbox being solely adult to adult. Obviously when they are too young it has to be but as they get older I was given the impression, by my social worker, that I should get my son involved. I had hoped letterbox would help my son understand he wasn't rejected by his birth family and that he hasn't been forgotten about. I hoped it would also give him the opportunity to ask any questions he may have about his birth family. He also has letterbox contact with his older siblings. Again I was given the impression the children would be given the letters not that I was writing to their carers. It's really frustrating that practice is not consistent across the country.

OurMiracle1106 Sat 09-Jun-18 15:21:05

As a birth Mum I have to repeatedly chase to get my contact and repeatedly chase to make sure it is sent to them. Have you checked that she isn’t expecting you to write first?

My letter can sit around for weeks before I get it “waiting to be checked”

It’s a long process and I honestly do wish it could just be via a solicitor

Cassie9 Sat 09-Jun-18 21:13:50

I have sent a letter and I've checked that she received it. That was a couple of months ago. Our miracle it must be so frustrating that you have chase it up.

Firstnameterms Sun 10-Jun-18 08:08:07

Imagine how much a solicitor would charge for the service OurMiracle! Doing it via a solicitor would intimidate many bp and ap. The government need to sort out all their underfunded areas. A charity might be a good alternative but again, it all takes money. Sorry to derail your thread smile

L0UISA Sun 10-Jun-18 21:40:51

l had hoped letterbox would help my son understand he wasn't rejected by his birth family and that he hasn't been forgotten about. I hoped it would also give him the opportunity to ask any questions he may have about his birth family

These are very big hopes you have for letterbox contact and I think you need to be prepared for the fact that these will not be fulfilled.

Your son has been rejected by his bio family, otherwise he wouldn’t be with you. You need to come to terms with this, so you can help him do so when he’s old enough to learn the words for what he has lived through.

I hope he’s not been forgotten about, but I don’t think you can rely on continued letterbox contact to prove this to you and him. It very often stops because the BF stop making contact, as Ted says. You need to be prepared that this might fail AND he’s not been forgotten about But he and you may ever have the proof of this.

It’s also very unlikely that he will be able to get answers to any questions he might ask about his bio family through letterbox. Even the most innocuous questions, such as likes and dislikes, sports hobbies etc , don’t usually get an answer.

If you hope that he will get answers to the big questions most adoptees REALLY want to ask, then you will surely be disappointed.

I know that you want to make everything ok for him. Perhaps you want to have a happy adoption story to tell him. That’s only natural but it’s not realistic in most cases.

I’m not writing these things to be harsh or criticise you, but to encourage you to work through your own feelings of disappointment and loss so you are free to help your son deal with his own feelings, whatever they are.

Otherwise you can end up pushing your own agenda on him , so he won’t fel able to share his feelings with you and will lock them up inside himself. Which I’m sure you don’t want .

Thebluedog Sun 10-Jun-18 21:43:22

The letterbox contact for my dd is sporadic to say the least. Sometimes I’ll get it in the middle of the year, should be Christmas, other years I’ll get nothing.

Cassie9 Mon 11-Jun-18 06:43:09

L0UISA I think your totally right. I have unrealistic expectations about contact. I need to deal with my feelings around it now. Thank you

L0UISA Mon 11-Jun-18 07:57:47

Cassie, I totally get the wish to have a happy adoption story for our kids. This is particularly an issue in some cultures, where there is a pressure to make up a happy story “ so it doesn’t damage the child’s self esteem “.

So it’s all “ Mummy Jane had a baby . Mummy Emma and Daddy Dave didn’t have a baby and wanted one and asked Social Worker Alan to find one. Jane gave them her baby and went to college and they all lived happily ever after “.

Of course the subtext is “ well we adults are happy so you must be too. Because if you feel sad about a situation that makes everyone else happy then you are selfish and wrong “.

Adoption starts from a place of loss for everyone involved. And denying some of the facts “ you were not rejected “ “ they loved you so they gave you away “ isn’t helpful.

Adopters have been trained to empathise and understand the BF at the same time as listening to the social workers detail how they were inadequate and usually also dangerous as parents . That’s a hard balancing act.

Social workers tell them that they as AP must always out the child's interests first, while the SW themselves continue to put their own and the BFs interests first.

It’s a very hard line to walk as APs.

Being positive is great but not when it denies that the child is allowed to have their own feelings and views about their adoption which may radically differ from those of the adults involved.

We as APs need to work through out own griefs and losses in adoption so we can be there emotionally for our children. And come to terms with some of the hard and unpleasant facts that are often part of our children’s life story . Sometimes there are things that can never be dressed up nicely and we have to walk with our children on their journey.

Cassie9 Mon 11-Jun-18 19:18:08

L0UISA I think I may have given you the wrong impression. I'm not trying to edit my child's history or deny his feelings. Like the majority of children entering care his life story has difficult information to share. Of course I will share that and support my child to deal with it. However I also want to explain to him that despite his BMs mistakes she did and countinues to love him. I had hoped contact would help convey that message I now see I was wrong.

OurMiracle1106 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:58:31

L0UISA my son was not rejected by me, I admit I failed him. I couldn’t protect myself or my son but I would never reject him, he is loved and wanted, I just wasn’t able to provide what he needed- that’s not the same as not loving or wanting him. also most adoptions are forced- as in a court has decided this so most birth parents don’t “give up” their child, though those that do tend to do this for very sound reasons and I admire their strength of putting their child first.

However I accept I’m not the vast majority of birth parents. My contact is as regular as social services allow (it’s not my fault they don’t pass it on etc and I have to chase constantly) I am prepared to answer any and all questions as openly and honestly as is age appropriate so long as they have a relation to my birth child- however as my father died when I was young I unfortunately know very little about him and have never had a photo sad so can’t pass this on.

I feel it’s best to be open with my son so he can understand where he came from. There’s naturally questions I can’t answer- about his birth father and my own father because I honestly just don’t know the answers- this isn’t to prevent him having this

I understand using a solicitor would be expensive, but social services aren’t working so I do feel another intermediary needs appointing to deal with contact.

donquixotedelamancha Wed 13-Jun-18 20:24:53

Adoption starts from a place of loss for everyone involved.

I don't find that. I was rejected by my BPs and I find it adoption to be a source of great joy. I think it's primarily about gaining a family, just the same as having a child any other way.

There is usually sadness somewhere in the story these days, but it is often a footnote to the main narrative.

L0UISA my son was not rejected by me

I think this is an important distinction. I'm the first to stick up for adopters who worry that they are not 'real' parents but we should be careful not to generalise.

darkriver198868 Thu 14-Jun-18 01:46:00

I am also one of those parents that havent rejected her children. I have made an incredibly hard and painful decision to agree to local authorities plans. (Just as an fyi I was NEVER an abusive mother, just an unwell one. Judges words not mine)

L0UISA Thu 14-Jun-18 13:17:20

You are both right, I should have qualified my statement . Apologies .

I think that many adoptees can FEEL rejected, even when the birth parents feel that they had no choice. And of course the birth mum has often been let down by other people who should have supported and helped her before she got to the place where the chid was relinquished or removed.

I recognise that it’s never simple.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 15-Jun-18 12:10:59

darkriver the judge stated she felt it was tragic the circumstances for my son and that he was clearly very loved.

I hope by maintaining contact and answering his questions as openly as appropriate for his age will mean he will KNOW he wasn’t unwanted or rejected or unloved but the complete opposite.

it was the hardest most gut wrenching decision of my life. The day I went to court for the adoption order was the hardest day of my life- and I say this as someone who has cremated her Mum and miscarried 2 babies.

L0UISA Fri 15-Jun-18 19:53:20

I think that losing a child is the worst thing that any of us will ever live through.

Cassie9 Fri 22-Jun-18 20:12:08

I've finally spoken to the letterbox Co ordinator. The lack of letterbox is due to the agency not BM.

This is my first experience of letterbox and its so disappointing.
They misplaced the letter I sent. When bm rang asking for her letter they contacted me asking for a copy of the letter. Then they found the original I sent. Despite BMs response being due months ago the Co ordinator hadn't spoken to her. However bm has been in touch with ACs social worker asking for help with writing her letter.

I get the feeling this is what it's going to be like every year.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 22-Jun-18 21:01:49

cassie as a birth parent I can say yes it probably will be like this every time. I actively chase mine and I hope my sharing my experience of the chasing and endless emails calls and voicemails with no response that the parents on this board is better able to understand that it’s not birth parents in all cases but instead is the adoption agency/local authority.

I hope contact will move smoother over time.

I tend to email a couple of weeks before it’s due to remind and confirm my contact details address etc. Then wait until a week or so after it’s due and email to chase repeat until I get an answer same once it’s received by them, chase to find out when I can collect. Email over the letter, confirm it’s been received and then confirm a week later my sons parents have received it.

It’s a lot of emailing and persistence but it’s the only way for me sadly. And even then it’s often late:delayed or lost. sad

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