This week’s interview about contact and life story work is with birth mum Sammy. I’m really grateful she’s agreed to give us an insight into things from her perspective.
It’s so important that adopters understand the importance of contact for birth families. It’s often the case that they don’t feel able to reply to our letters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cherish every word that’s written. Sammy does receive some help and support to write her letters, but I don’t think that’s always available in a way that encourages birth parents to reply.
How often do you have contact with your child?
I have indirect via letterbox yearly
How does this happen?
I get two letters via the letterbox team in my local authority
What kind of things do you include in your letters? Do you send anything else with them?
I send photos of me, her cat and anything new in the family and a birthday card. I always ask about health, school, wellbeing, likes and dislikes, her birthday and Christmas. I ask about her pets and how her adoptive parents and brothers are. I also add memories from home and from her cat and fish here and anything they have told me. Her adoptive parents write first then I reply. I include anything I’ve been up to too.
Have you requested any support from the local authority in connection with contact?
I receive help with my letters via the letterbox team. They help me with what is good to put in, but nothing around how it works.
If you haven’t received any support from the local authority have you received any support from another organisation?
Yes. I’ve received support and currently still do from PAC-UK. It helps as they don’t judge like social services do and see me as a parent not a failure.
What do you get in reply to your contact letters?
They write first which is two letters, one from the adoptive parents and a hand written one from my daughter.
What type of information is in the letters? Do you think there’s enough or would you like more?
I get told a lot of information about my daughter’s daily life. Their letters are always two pages long and her own is a page long. I feel I get told a lot which I love and am really grateful for.
How old was your child when they left your home?
She was three and a half when placed with her potential adopters and six when the adoption order was granted.
Were you asked if you wanted to add information to her life story book? If yes, what did you add?
I asked them and they agreed. They asked me to get photos and information about me, her family, her dad, pregnancy, birth milestones, later life letter and any wishes I had for her future.
Is there anything else you’ve given her such as an item of your clothing or keepsake?
My daughter has my brown bear called Benji. I got him from Santa one Christmas Eve as I was in hospital ill. I gave him to her and I’m told she knows what he means and that she has him. She also has a locket with a picture of us and her cat.
Did you get any support with life story work?
The family practitioner came to my house and we put it together. She had worked with me and my daughter from when they became involved up to final goodbye. She and my daughter had a good relationship. She showed me the information up to her being in foster care and what she put in about that. Then I couldn’t see anymore as that was information around her adopters.