At work we tend to get pupils to peer mark work with 2*’s and a wish (two positives and something to improve). When I was contemplating a post to write about contact, many thoughts crossed my mind; there are many things I could write about, however I thought I would concentrate on a couple of positives, although warning you now that there is a big negative at the end, hence 2*’s and a wish!
We have direct contact with two of boyo’s siblings. They are adopted on the other side of our city – as far out from the city as we are in the opposite direction. The live together (as they are twins) with their mum, dad and older sister. We see them 3 or 4 times a year, as arranged between their mum and myself, in an adhoc manner.
We all gain from the direct contact. Boyo and the twins don’t necessarily (one twin might, the Boyo and the other twin don’t) at the moment understand the relationship that they have to each other. But they have an intrinsic link to each other. The last time we saw them we hadn’t seen them for 6 months, and when we arrived the twins came running up and took Boyo off to play and he went happily. They will grow up knowing each other, and when the understanding comes they will know that we have facilitated that contact throughout their lives with us.
Their mum and I (and by inference our other halves) gain from the relationship. We have shared our knowledge and understanding of the complex family history. We have consoled each other when things have been challenging, including phone calls after a dramatic/traumatic event. All the boys have their issues, which overlap but are all different. We sit and talk and go ‘oh, so and so does that’. It helps to have someone who understands, who gets it, who is living it. We have different lives but a truly shared experience.
We have had a good experience of letterbox with Boyo’s birth family. We wrote for the first time 18 months after he came to us and had responses from everyone we wrote to, that are stored safely. We have a letter from his birthmum (that her stepson wrote for her, but she told him what to write) that will help in the future with his understanding. We have responses from the two eldest siblings in long term care, which they have obviously had support to write, but have written. We have a letter from the next two’s foster parents with a note from the siblings. When we received the letters, we knew how lucky we were.
However, and here is the negative I promised.
Someone, somewhere decided that the money been wasted on sending letterbox letters out which have been returned as people have moved should be saved. Therefore before letterbox contact happens now, adoptive families and birth families have to email the letterbox co-ordinator to confirm their address.
The consequence of this change in policy was dramatic. Last year from the 4 letters we wrote, we received one response, not the 4 that we had received previously.
I understand the council’s need to save money. Trust me, I understand that need. But for my boy’s the likelihood is that their birth families will not remember to write, and they will not receive the letters that we write for them. And that breaks my heart for all of them.