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First letter box advice

20 replies

insmithereens · 10/08/2018 15:26

Hi all

About to write our first letter to BM & just looking for some advice really. We never met BM & she did everything she could to try to keep her two children both now with us.

I plan to write a letter directly to BM from me. No idea how it'll be taken but I feel I want to.

It's the letter about / from the kids im not sure about. Do I address it dear mummy & write as if from both kids? In which case do I write two separate letters, one from each child? Or do I write it from me about the kids? Interested to hear what others have done.

Obvs sending paintings etc they've done with me for BM & will get ADs input (AS is too young) as to what she'd like to tell BM about etc etc. Just not sure what person to in/from.

Any other advice / tips also welcome!


OP posts:
bostonkremekrazy · 10/08/2018 15:44

We write ours ' dear fred......x has grown so much this year etc etc'. 1 side a4, half a sheet about each child is what I do.
Our dc are too young to write or participate at present so we do it for them. We put a painting in that they have done.
We opted for this as it takes away any unreal expectations for the future.
We have been adoptive parents for 10 years.
Letterbox gets harder i think for everyone as time goes on. Be realistic now about what you can cope with - having letters back signed mummy/daddy can feel difficult in years to come for some people.
This should have been agreed pre adoption and may be in your 6 week review paperwork.
Good luck...the first one is sometimes the hardest x

donquixotedelamancha · 10/08/2018 17:09

Great post from boston. Agree with everything said.

Do I address it dear mummy & write as if from both kids?

I would not do this. I think what you do depends on the age of the kids and their prior relationship with mum.

Or do I write it from me about the kids?

This would be the most common advice on best practice. IME children usually only write if adopted when older. Be aware that most BPs do not write back, so that is a possibility even if you are confident she will.

I would tend to be a little cautious with the first one, perhaps not involving the kids until things are a bit more established. I think there is a risk of it being upsetting, particularly if expectations are raised with your DD and them BM doesn't reply. Be led by the kids needs, rather than any expectation of what you 'should' do.

Dontbuymesocks · 10/08/2018 18:26

We use a kind home-made ‘template’ when we write. This means that I never forget what to include in the letter, and it’s always consistent. For example I’ll say:
DS’s daily routine is....
He really loves to....
His favourite foods are.....but he doesn’t like....
At the weekend he loves to.....

These are just examples, but you get my drift. Our birth mum doesn’t have particularly good literacy, so it’s important I keep it simple and accessible, while giving a sense of what DS is like and how he is developing.
Unfortunately for us, we haven’t had a reply yet, and I’m not sure we ever will.

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 10/08/2018 20:59

Write it to her from you.

I agree, keep it straight forward and not over long. You want to be able to keep up the same length for the next 18 or so years.

We don't have a formal template but do also cover health, interests, education, personality. Not everything every time.

We also keep it on the rosy side of honest. I did a much more honest one last time as I was so stressed (see other threads) and it got rejected by SW for the first time ever.

Ted27 · 10/08/2018 22:28

letterbox should be be between the adults, its not a letter from the children. Use names, please don't address her as mummy or mum. This will only cause confusion and probably create expectations on her part.
Its hard, but you are mum now.
Unless the children have been promised contact with the birth family I really wouldn't involve them in writing the letter. Some children find it confusing and even frightening at the thought birth family might know about their new life or where they live, or if they don't get a reply it can be very distressing for them.

insmithereens · 11/08/2018 10:59

Thanks for your advice everyone. Now feels a little foolish I was thinking of writing from the kids. It's difficult because our AD had a great relationship with her BM & BGM 'Nanna' and at the advice of SWs we talk about both (not regularly but enough) so that it is normalised for AD. She has gifts & books from both with messages in them that we read together & I'm almost certain at least nanna will reply as our lettterbox agreement is to write to both.

Would you write one generic letter to both then?

Is it just completely naive to think I could try to build a relationship of sorts with them to the benefit of our ACs future self-esteem & identity?

OP posts:
Ted27 · 11/08/2018 13:46

You arent at all foolish or naive, contact is an absolute minefield. I don't think its a bad idea to have a positive relationship with them, but at this stage its probably better if its with you.

Everyone's situation is different though. I think you should probably get some advice from your SW who knows your particular circumstances.

Remember though that birth parents can find it difficult to maintain and if your children expect a letter, and it doesnt arrive then it can be very hard to explain - I've been there. For that reason alone I would keep the letters between you as adults until you are sure they can maintain it.

insmithereens · 11/08/2018 20:50

Thanks Ted, really good advice & much appreciated

OP posts:
GoblinSharts · 11/08/2018 22:51

Hi OP,
The rule of ours is that letters are between adults. My daughters birth father last year wrote it to her and it verged on inappropriate. I felt strongly enough that i asked letterbox to raise it with him.
I type out one letter and print two copies for bf and bm. They get exactly the same copy. I try to incorporate questions they have asked but they get the same reply. I think for me, because they ended acrimoniously, I didn’t want either of them getting jealous of what the other receives. My daughter is a toddler and believe me it is hard writing a long letter for me! I write abought half a page. It is to the point and reads like a school report, with a couple of anecdotes.

Cassie9 · 12/08/2018 06:33

I wrote the letter from me about my adopted son. He's too young to understand yet. I signed my letter 'best wishes from adoptive parents.' My agency asked it to be changed to 'love from Child name and family.' Agencies clearly have very different approaches. My agency gave me a pack with example letters. Maybe you could ask your agency if they have something similar.

insmithereens · 12/08/2018 11:16

Thanks Cassie good idea. I had been wondering about how to sign off. I will ask my SW but we've had so many changes they don't know us, our kids, BPs or the history well at all. As you suggest though, they may have sample letters & generic advice

OP posts:
topcat2014 · 12/08/2018 11:21

@Cassie9 - to me, writing "love from" seems a bit odd, but then I am not that far down the road yet.

I guess I will adjust my expectations as we get nearer.

I like the school report idea.

Cassie9 · 12/08/2018 17:17

@topcat2014 After talking to different adopters who have used different agencies I've realised practise varies massively from agency to agency. It may not be a case of changing your expectations but finding the right agency. In hindsight I wouldn't use my agency again.

donquixotedelamancha · 17/08/2018 19:22

Now feels a little foolish I was thinking of writing from the kids.

I don't think it's foolish to spend a lot of time thinking about these things. Even the worst LAs usually give some guidance, even if not very good, so it sounds like you've been left in the dark. I do the same as Ted 27 suggests about not calling her mum and making sure letters are between adults.

I signed my letter 'best wishes from adoptive parents.' My agency asked it to be changed to 'love from Child name and family.'

Just when I think I've heard it all, there is always some new madness to surprise me. I can't imagine this was agency practice, surely just an oddball SW or administrator? Did you actually follow this advice @Cassie9?

YesAnotherChangeOfName · 17/08/2018 23:10

We write directly to BPs, almost school report style with a longish paragraph about each of our DC.
We felt this was good advice though and have followed it - keep a copy of letters sent, take a photo of Christmas or birthday cards that you send and request an acknowledgement from the letterbox coordinator each time to keep with these. If there is never a reply from the birth parents or replies stop, then at least you can show your DC in the future that it's not due to a lack of trying on your part.

Cassie9 · 18/08/2018 07:27

@donquixotedelamancha I'd never sent contact before so I took the professionals advice. Perhaps that makes me foolish.

donquixotedelamancha · 18/08/2018 08:18

I'd never sent contact before so I took the professionals advice. Perhaps that makes me foolish

It doesn't, we all feel like that. Indeed if that's how you want to sign off then of course it's fine. Do remember though that your child is your child; you don't need to do anything with contact that you don't want to.

bostonkremekrazy · 18/08/2018 13:25

I don't actually think there's anything wrong with signing from x and family....if you feel ok with that @cassie9 so don't feel bad. You are the parent, you can say yes or no as you feel comfortable.
In the early days our children would write to 'mummy x, love from y' x. It was only after several years of no response that I gently changed letterbox- to protect my children - not the bp. (My ds was 3.5 though so he already had to stop calling her mummy and start saying mummy x etc)
So now I write and older kids refuse, I write for my babies and bf writes back.
I write dear x, and happily accept letters signed love from daddy x so we have some contact from a bp for the future.

donquixotedelamancha · 18/08/2018 14:16


To clarify: The only bit I thought was bonkers, was a SW being so controlling as to alter your sign off on a letter, even to the point of dictating you express love for BP. Not wishing to criticise your choice in any way.

AngelsWithSilverWings · 19/08/2018 08:42

I write mine in the form of a newsletter. I don't put to or dear anyone and I don't sign it off.

We just detail in a factual way what the DC have been up to. So talk about holidays or school activities and an update on the sports and clubs they are doing. We also give a a general indication about how their school reports were.

My DC know that we send the letters but have no involvement at all. I have asked in the past if they want to contribute but they have refused.

The biggest problem is that BM has never kept to her side of the contact agreement so we have had no letters or birthday cards back from her. She does chase us up if we are late with our newsletter though which I find slightly irritating.

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