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Letterbox....what would you do?

22 replies

NWQM · 02/10/2019 14:35

Partly posting as just need to vent a little. We've done four letters a year as suggested by the court. We get the odd reply.
We have been in touch with our adoption agency as we are really, really struggling.
We are on a waiting list for adoption support assessment. They have no staff apparently. We have been waiting weeks.
We did our last letters in April. They have lost them. I told them tough. I'm not currently redoing them and if I did they probably wouldn't send them on because I wouldn't be prepared to say it's all ok because they wouldn't want to worry birth family. They have frankly devastated me by having capacity to ring so often about this and to write us a letter but they don't have capacity to talk about my daughter.

Would you do a bland letter to get shut them up or not?

For me it matters that we have always put effort into the letters. We have only had a few replies and many months after the month we should exchange.

OP posts:
herecomesthespiderbrooch · 02/10/2019 14:43

Four letters a year is a lot. Could you do fewer letters a year, to take the strain off, but keep communication open?

They have frankly devastated me by having capacity to ring so often about this and to write us a letter but they don't have capacity to talk about my daughter.
I don't know the details of your daughter's story, and this is not always true, but usually if BPs have the resources and capability to prioritise their children's needs above their own, their children never enter the care system. So that's to be expected.

Would you do a bland letter to get shut them up or not? I would write a bland letter. Not to shut them up, but to maintain communication for your daughter in the future. I would advise reviewing the frequency of letterbox, if you have a lot on, which it sounds like you do, annually may be in your daughter's best interests.

NWQM · 02/10/2019 15:02

@herecomesthespiderbrooch sorry by 'they' I meant the adoption agency. They can ring to chase us but not to check on my daughter.

OP posts:
herecomesthespiderbrooch · 02/10/2019 15:22

Oh, sorry.

Sadly, that doesn't surprise me either. Letterbox isn't for the agency, though, it's for your daughter and birth parents. I hate the fact that the agency get an update on the child they failed, and get to nose in, and write stoppy letters to me about letterbox, when they've been dreadful towards us as a family. But I feel the rage, and then get on and send the letter. It's for your daughter, it's hard though. I also reduced to annually, as my blood pressure couldn't take it!

DashOfMagic · 02/10/2019 19:24

Hi I have no experience of this yet (newly placed) but just wanted to say I actually agree with you I wouldn’t want to write a censored letter. (If they’d lost it I’d be furious about writing another letter anyway but would do it for DD). Maybe minimal info about the current problems but something to say “DD is currently struggling we are supporting her through this”. The letters are for your daughter and to support her identity. I don’t think it’s right to gloss over her struggles because the agency don’t want to trouble BP. If she looks at these in the future she may resent it. I also feel BP would not really want this either.

I feel for you, the chasing for letterbox while falling behind on support would give me absolute rage but it’s a system thing you’ll probably never make any headway on with written complaints etc so I suppose you know at the moment you just have to pick your battles and not make your own life harder AngryFlowers

Hope you can get support sorted for your girl soon x

Purple1314 · 02/10/2019 19:29

Not an immediate solution but I type our letters so if they lost one I could just print it off again. I would just write another one, maybe saying the one you had written initially was misplaced after it had been sent to the LA. It may be reducing the frequency to twice yearly would work better? I imagine it's quite hard for the birth parents to receive and respond to the letters so quickly as much as it is hard for you to write them when things are tough.

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 03/10/2019 12:06

I too think 4 letters a year is too much, if you are saying once every 3 months not 4 duplicate letters to different people yearly.

I would definitely ask to drop to twice a year if not yearly.

We have always gone for positive spin but mentioning issues. So e.g. 'Fred tries hard at school, but still finds it hard to keep his emotions in check which does come out in behaviour' or 'Layla has been feeling quite down about everything but we have arranged some counselling to start soon so hopefully that will help'.

I think less frequent letters may help as you can take a slightly longer view in what is happening rather than wanting to say 'Tai is so emotionally damaged by his past that he is regularly violent and we are stressed to the roof about it'.

And definitely type.

flapjackfairy · 03/10/2019 16:00

You are the legal parents and they can't force you to write at all so do what works for you. There is no legal obligation unless it has been set in stone by a judge as part of the adoption order.
Personally I would send a bland letter once a year giving nothing away . I wouldn't want the birth family to know about any struggles I was having for sure. Just short and nondescript is the way to go for me.

Italiangreyhound · 03/10/2019 17:38

Yes, I'd do a bland letter, to show willing. We type them and email them.

I'd get it out of the way and then focus on other things. Good luck.

donquixotedelamancha · 03/10/2019 18:14

I too think 4 letters a year is too much

That was my immediate reaction too. I agree with what has been said above about you being the legal parent- all of this is your choice. That said, I don't want to give overly combative advice without understanding the situation:

  • I presume that there is a reason for this much contact- without revealing anything you don't want to, can you give a rough idea what that is?
  • Is contact specifically court ordered? (that would be unusual, you'd know)
  • Who is ringing you and what exactly are they saying?
  • Are you in Englandandwales, Scotland or NI?

They have frankly devastated me by having capacity to ring so often about this and to write us a letter but they don't have capacity to talk about my daughter. Would you do a bland letter to get shut them up or not?

I would not engage in any conversation which left me feeling that way. I would remove permission for that person to contact me and make a complaint.

I would certainly not be sending letters until I had a response about how a letter was lost and a constructive, supportive conversation about the fact that you don't want to send a very negative letter to BPs.

I think it's better to unpick what is going on a bit and get contact on a better footing than simply sending a letter immediately to placate a pushy member of staff.

I wouldn't be prepared to say it's all ok because they wouldn't want to worry birth family.

I don't think letters should be false- they should be accurate but constructive. It's OK to say that there are behavioural difficulties and you are seeking support.

Finally (apologies for wittering) you may wish to start another thread about the support you need- there is good advice here.
Italiangreyhound · 03/10/2019 18:23

And four letters is say too much! We write 2 a year. I think many just write once a year.

darkriver19886 · 03/10/2019 18:41

Even I think four letters is excessive. As a birth parent there is no way I would be able to cope with that many letters in a year. I wouldnt have much to put in them. I currently have twice yearly contact and find this tolerable.

I can't comment on the content but I will say I would feel incredibly discouraged if I got a bland letter. Especially if I had put so much thought in mine. However, I know not every birth parent can cope with contact.

OurChristmasMiracle · 04/10/2019 18:10

Hi OP I’m a birth parent and I am wondering that if they have admitted this time to losing your letter to birth parents that this may have happened before- and they may have also lost birth parents Letters. Also from experience chasing it to be told it’s been lost/misplaced/ needs checking/ has sat on social workers desk for 3 weeks despite me chasing it is frustrating. Often social workers change and trying to find out whose dealing with it before has taken me 4-6 weeks and even then I went back to the adoption social worker and age found out for me.

4 times a year is too much because from my experience letter box contact takes a long time to turn around.

Post adoption support is abysmal despite them having a legal duty of care to implement it.

Unless there’s a court order you can go back and say 4 times a year just isn’t working and you’d rather do twice and the birth parents would get a more meaningful letter. My advice would be in future to email the letter- that way if it gets lost you can just resend the email.

NWQM · 04/10/2019 22:01

Thank-you for your replies. It means a lot.

Trying to answer some of the comments - sorry if I've mislead a bit but it's four letters because our children have different birth mum's. So it's DC1's birth Mum - always a bland letter because she has never responded, their paternal birth grandmother and twice a year to birth Dad and DC's birth Mum who are still together as a couple.

For the last three we have always put in effort including engaging the children in particular with the birth Dad & DC2's birth Mum's letters.

We hadn't heard back from 2018 letter. It transpires though that letter from DC's birth Mum has gone missing but was very 'late'.

Social worker has kept ringing. Each time I remind her that she has said she has a copy of the missing letter and she says she will forward it but....

Anyway we felt that we were overwhelmed by this - straw that might break the camel and all that - so we've done very basic... for us.. letters.

OP posts:
herecomesthespiderbrooch · 04/10/2019 22:30

Anyway we felt that we were overwhelmed by this - straw that might break the camel and all that - so we've done very basic... for us.. letters.

I hear you, and well done for doing them. That's still a lot of letters. Flowers

Hope things feel easier tomorrow.

darkriver19886 · 04/10/2019 22:36

I didn't realise it was four different sets. Well done for doing them.

donquixotedelamancha · 04/10/2019 22:46

Thanks for the update OP. Based on your info I would suggest that one letter a year for each child is a sensible approach. More than that is hard to fill and emotionally draining, so the quality drops. I would do both letters at the same time and send copies to all contacts.

If that is the way you go, I would inform the LA of your decision, not ask or discuss.

Social worker has kept ringing.

I would guess that's the child's birth parents SW? It sounds as though they have felt pressured by BPs and not dealt with you very professionally. Certainly it is highly unacceptable to have a letter hanging around and not passed on for months.

Italiangreyhound · 05/10/2019 08:37

Ah, 4 different people. Makes sense. Ok well done for bland letter. Bland better than none.

Did you make copies this time?


sassygromit · 05/10/2019 12:00

It sounds like you have done really well with the letters, and it will be appreciated in the future by your dc, I am sure. Judging from other posts on here it may have been the agency who messed up the return to you of birth parent letters. Also, it may be different staff members there who deal with things at the agency - so a more junior person chasing you for letters while a more experienced person is not available to discuss your dc. Again, I don't know, but I hope you get the help you have asked them for.

jellycatspyjamas · 05/10/2019 12:13

I’m just sitting down to write our one, annual letter and finding it hard to know what to say so I can imagine that four letters to different people would be totally draining. I’d be very tempted to go with superficial (rather than bland) eg what my kids enjoy doing, what they’re doing at school, friends etc and would steer away from talking about difficulties at home. Not because I don’t want to worry birth mum, i don’t feel particularly protective of her, but because I don’t want our family business shared with someone I don’t know. My DC have the right not to have the things they struggle with shared with others and held on “record” as it were.

In your shoes I’d do one letter that gets sent to everyone (with the irrelevant bits taken out depending on who it goes to).

NWQM · 05/10/2019 20:55

It's our agency who keep ringing. The same ones who don't have capacity to do our post adoption support assessment that might lead to help for our daughter. I do get that it's different parts of the service but just have found it hard. It took a lot to ring up for support but actually I just feel that they have reinforced our thoughts that we aren't up for this.

We've had a reasonable day today though so have to count blessings.

By bland I mean it was just a letter and just bits and bobs - M for her bronze Chief Scout etc. Nothing much compared to the effort we've gone to in previous years & the children haven't been involved.

OP posts:
donquixotedelamancha · 05/10/2019 21:03

It's our agency who keep ringing. So not the placing LA? That's bloody weird, they are supposed to be entirely on your side.

Was this nagging just about a replacement letter? How much did they ring?

The same ones who don't have capacity to do our post adoption support assessment that might lead to help for our daughter.

Have they given you a time scale for assessment? If not, have you considered a complaint?

Try the Adoption UK forums for advice about pushing for support. The demographic there gets more of the harder end, so there is a lot of expertise.

By bland I mean it was just a letter and just bits and bobs

I think that's absolutely fine. Better to keep contact going in a way which is manageable for you.

NWQM · 06/10/2019 20:48

@donquixotedelamancha - they have rung quite a few times since May when It seems the birth mother had started ringing them. She's intensified the number of calls and so have they. It might sound like I'm being awkward but the calls aren't 'can you do the letters' it's all the same - have you had G's letter? No. Can you do yours? I have. Okay We will check and so on.

Have I made a complaint? Not yet. Well not fully. The phone calls have included lots of 'oh you see we have moved and it's been chaos', 'we are sooo short staffed' etc and I got really fed up of it last week & asked to speak to a senior. I explained that whilst I have sympathy for their difficulties that in the context of no date for when they might even think about whether they can do their job for us I just don't want to hear it.

My little girl needs help. At the minute all she has is us and places on waiting lists.

OP posts:
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