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No letterbox or life story(26 Posts)
The adoption order has just been granted for our LO. It has been delayed a long time due to various delays and then covid. We had calls the same day from our SW and hers saying congratulations and we’d be discharged now. A life story book will be sent through, but there will be a delay, the admin team are doing a deep dive as the photos of birth mum taken during contact to put in life story are missing as the person who took them has left.
I’m so concerned about her life story and that she’s being dropped now she’s adopted officially with no more effort to go in.
We don’t know who her father is which can’t be helped obviously. Her mum has not been in touch with SS and they haven’t tried to contact her to set up letterbox. We know she has a sister living with a grandparent who we would like letterbox contact with and have continuously pushed for this but SW has not been able to set this up. They know the address, phone number etc but I feel haven’t tried very hard to contact. We have the address of the grandparent, would anyone else write to them or is that ridiculous?? They were assessed 2yrs ago to look after her, they were turned down and opted not to tell the sister then as they knew LO was likely to be adopted and weren’t sure how to explain that. Since then they have not been informed that she’s no longer in foster care and has been adopted or that they could have letter contact.
We have NO letterbox arrangements and NO photos of birth mum or sister, grandparents or any other family. There’s almost nothing to tell her and nothing to show her if they don’t find these photos. Does anyone have any advice of how to advocate for her now and also respond in future to her with such little info?
Thanks in advance xx
It took ages after the AO before we got the life story book and later life letter. That's very common unfortunately, but keep reminding them - and don't let it hold you back from appropriate chats with your child about their story, if they're at an age where they would understand.
I would not write to the other family, personally. I'd contact post-adoption support if you're not getting anywhere with your SW, and ask them for the contact details for the letterbox coordinator. Then you can send a letter for them to either pass on, or hold on file if the other family aren't ready to engage. You don't know what else is going on in their life, and they might feel uncomfortable with a direct approach.
Congratulations on the AO!
I would agree not to approach the birth family directly. As much as you would like letterbox contact there is no obligation on the part of the birth family to engage in this and there are many reason why they might find that difficult. They shouldn’t need to explain that to you and social work are best placed to have that conversation with them.
The later life letter does tend to come a bit later - ours was a year or so down the line, again social workers need to think about how best to explain the child’s life story in writing and will want to talk this through with the birth family in case the child looks for their birth family down the line.
I know your only concern is for the child placed with you, social workers are trying to balance the needs and welfare of all parties and that can take time.
In the meantime you can talk about your child’s life story with them - I’m very child led in that we’re always open to talking about it, always happy to talk about adoption and usually wait for questions from the kids rather than me deciding when they might want to talk. Congratulations on your adoption order, another step along the long road of being a parent.
We are 3 and a half years post adoption order and despite asking numerous times we haven't 'received our later life letter or life story work at all !
Luckily we adopted our foster child so have quite a lot of info but it really is bad practice on behalf of the local authority.
Please don’t contact the family.
It took over a year for my sons life story book to arrive, it had a lot of mistakes such as talking about his new mummy and daddy and some key details about him were wrong.
I have made my own, the only thing missing (and missing in his official story) is photos of the foster carers.
Ok great thank you all for the replies. We’ve made up a little photo/story book which has photos of foster carers and their house which we took during introductions then the story of how she moved here and the settling in time. We keep that out plus her introductions book. She likes to flick through both of them then we talk about it so she will grow up understanding her story. I’ve also contacted her foster carer and asked if she could write a few lines about what birth mum was like and a description of her as she’s the only person who’s met her and spoke well of her, even just to say if any of her features were like LOs to be able to tell her as we don’t even know hair colour etc.
It’s just the lack of information about birth family that’s disappointing, and the SW doesn’t have any intention to try and find out more or make contact anymore and I feel for her in future. It’s not that SS are intending letterbox but haven’t managed it yet, they are now not planning to attempt to contact mum, grandparent/sister, so that’s more what I was wondering about - how can we ask for them to make more effort to make contact...or is it appropriate and typical for them not to pursue it and we should leave it?
I will exercise patience waiting for the SW and the life story book and letter, I know there’s not really a rush and they have a lot on, but will keep chasing periodically. Not sure who said it but thank you that’s a good idea about being able to contact post adoption support and letterbox directly. We did a settling in letter and one year letter recently for mum and sister and sent to the SW but she said she couldn’t send them anywhere or hold on file as there was no letterbox arrangement in place. I think that’s probably not correct so would be good to go direct.
Thanks everyone for your replies x
It’s not that SS are intending letterbox but haven’t managed it yet, they are now not planning to attempt to contact mum, grandparent/sister, so that’s more what I was wondering about
There may be good reason for them to not pursue it, and they may not be able to share that information with you. In some cases the information available about the birth family is limited, or they may not give permission for information to be shared. What was the agreement about letterbox when your little one was placed?
Thanks @Jellycatspyjamas. When she was placed the senior SW attended the meetings (as LOs SW was brand new to LO and to adoption). She said they would like to arrange letterbox with mum and sister(/grandparent) and told us to do a settling in letter and they’d set up letterbox to be in February each year, but at that point no one had been in contact with any family for nearly a year so she tasked the SW to make contact and set this up if birth family were willing. SW has not attempted to contact mum and has phoned the grandparent once last year but there was no answer. She said she would go to the house but then lockdown happened. Each meeting we ask how it going but she’s not done anything else since the phone call last year to contact them and now she’s discharging LOs case.
I think you’re right though we will have to accept a certain lack of information. I know they can’t get what’s just not available.
How frustrating - in all honesty given the passage of time I’d be surprised if the birth family did want to engage, I imagine it might open up all sorts of wounds for them. SW should just say that to you though instead of leaving you wondering what’s been happening
Oh that’s so sad, but you’re probably right. I’m so annoyed, I feel like they’ve just let the opportunity be lost for my LO to be in contact with any of their birth family, especially her sister or even just to try and get some photos or let them know what has happened to her. I feel sad for them too, I can understand why they wouldn’t want to contact SS but they’ve just been left with no update.
My children were both adopted from Russia.
We have very little information about either of their birth families
Birth mothers names and DOB. No birth father named for either of them. Certainly no photographs.
It's not the end of the world. It doesn't seem to bother my kids very much. We've always been up front about their adoptions and have shared all the limited information we do have .
It's part and parcel of adoption I guess. There will always be so much unknown.
Thank you @gabsdot45 that’s pretty realistic and reassuring.
I would not contact grandparents direct, but leave information you'd be happy to have phone/video calls with them. We do this with one set of our DCs grandparents who were initially doubtful but now are friendly.
Looking at it from a different side, I am an adoptee, I have no information about my birth parents, know nothing whatsoever about them and I don’t care, it has no relevance to me. IMO you don’t need it. As far as I am concerned, my adoptive parents ARE my parents, I don’t need to know any more than that.
In contrast to the PP, I'm an adoptee and information about my birth parents and birth family has been incredibly important to me. It's brutal to be denied the basic information that every other person has.
I have heard from more adoptees like @vjg13 than like @LadyPenelope68.
I'm in vjg13 camp.
It was really important to me to be able to know. I am a 1970s adoption. In the days of Ancestry etc not knowing is no longer part and parcel if the adoptee experience. (Although I guess few people in Russia test.)
Anyway, OP if I were you I would persist in trying to facilitate a channel to your LOs sister. She will likely thank you later although I agree there could be factors that make if all very complicated. It's great your keeping at it.
I’m a birth mum and the local authority wasn’t forthcoming about setting up letterbox at all. In fact it was only that I questioned where it was etc that it was ever set up at all and even then getting answers was extremely difficult.
I’m not sure how or why the grandparents address has been shared with you but if you are hoping that birth mum or family will freely share information with you, they may be even less likely to do so if you contact the grandparents- especially if this address has been shared without their knowledge.
As a birth mum the local authority are not concerned with you once your child has been placed. Also as a birth parent the social worker does change, getting access to who that is for me at times has been extremely frustrating and a long process. In fact I contacted duty 2 years ago almost to find out who it had been passed over to as my social worker had left- I have still to receive a call or email back and I only managed to find out as I contacted the adoption social worker who very kindly did find out for me.
So whilst BM may not have been in contact with SS she may well have assumed that she would receive letter box when it arrives via email or post and that they would contact her- something I also assumed would happen
Thank you for the replies @LadyPenelope68 and @vjg13. I think your responses show it could go either way, so I want to know we’ve done everything possible to get some information for our LO in future. Thanks @drspouse I think it would be good to offer contact to the grandparent especially as the sister lives there but I guess that’s down to the SW to do.
Thanks @OVienna I found that really encouraging. It’s frustrating as I can see so many options SW could try to get in contact with mum and grandparents. I’ll keep at it.
@OurChristmasMiracle thank you for your reply it’s good to hear from you on the subject. This is my concern. It could be that her birth mum and grandparent aren’t interested in letterbox or don’t want contact from social services, but I think it’s more likely they’ve just been left with no update and don’t realise it’s an option. I won’t contact grandparents direct, it’s just frustrating as the SW isn’t doing it and they’re right there! The info on addresses is all in the CPR, we viewed quite a few before adopting LO and all had the birth families and FCs addresses in. I’d not really thought of it before but yes that’s a big privacy issue.
I would think it was in fact a GDPR issue as you would also have access to birth mums full name (via birth certificate/passport) as well so for me that would be identifiable information.
I would recommend you keep pushing. Have you met the birth mum/grandparents? If not ask to meet them- for me this was massively important- it will probably sound crazy but I needed to meet my sons parents to put my mind to rest that he was loved and looked after
Agree with suggestion above to contact letterbox coordinator who may give this more attention than the social worker. But also please bear in mind you have a right to make a complaint, a specific and very prescriptive process exists for exactly this kind of situation, and should usually get things moving in the right direction.
Re life story books etc, I think it is better to write your own (although the layout is a very helpful template); you have more control over how information is presented to your child and language used to fit with how your child understands their story (which depends on what their story is/age etc) - I am rewriting mine's at the moment.
I agree it's better to do the life story yourself. I waited two years to receive my son's and it just wasn't fit for purpose. I started from scratch using the Joy Rees method, which starts in the present before moving into the history part, so it's much easier for children to relate to.
Thanks so much everyone for the advice. I’ve emailed the SW to ask how it’s going with the photos and if they are going to make any more attempts to stay in touch with any of the birth family, and if they do then we are open to meeting still if they would like. But then as suggested above I will contact post adoption support to talk to them directly about letterbox. I’ll offer that we’re open to various types of contact and we could keep sending things for them to keep on file if they can do that. I’ll wait a bit for the life story but the common theme seems to be to do it ourselves which we can do! Thank you for all the advice, I have looked up about the joy Rees technique which looks good. We both use social stories a lot at work so I think we can put something together. Thanks everyone x
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