This week’s contact and life story interview is with Hayley. She shares how her and her husband manage contact and the types of things they have started to explore in terms of life story work with their young daughter.
Introduce yourself and your family
I’m Hayley, my husband Lee and I adopted our daughter when she was 10 months old. She is now three and a half. She’s our only child and certainly keeps us busy and entertained!
How often do you have contact with birth family?
We have letterbox contact with birth mother and a sibling (who is also adopted) once a year
What kind of things do you include in the letters? Do you send anything else like photos or pictures drawn by your children?
In the letters we tend to include lots of details about our daughter’s hobbies, for example dance classes that she’s recently started. We say what her favourite music or films are. If we’ve been on any holidays, we talk about those and what she enjoyed doing on them. We keep the letters very generalised and never mention a specific area. We’ve never sent any photos.
Do you write the letters or does your child get involved too?
At the moment I write the letters as she’s too young to understand. I may include her in the future but it depends how she is dealing with all of the emotions of adoption and if she wants to be involved. It would be her choice.
Have you requested any help and support in connection with contact from your agency? If so, what sort of help did you receive? Did it do what you needed it to?
We haven’t needed to contact our agency yet (our agency was Adoption Focus who you recently featured and they are amazing). Although we haven’t had to use their help regarding contact, I know they would be there to support us anytime we needed.
Do you get any replies from birth family or siblings?
Unfortunately birth mother has never replied to any of the letters. We had a response from her sibling the first time we wrote, but they haven’t replied to any further letters, which I find incredibly sad for our little girl.
When your child came home, did they have any memory of their birth family?
No memories at all due to her young age
If no, what age were they when you started life story work?
We have always left our daughter’s life story book lying around so she has constant access to it. She doesn’t really yet what the contents mean, she just enjoys looking at photographs of herself. She’s familiar with the word adoption and knows that we adopted her but again she doesn’t really have an understanding of what that is. We’ll continue to look through her life story book with her and even begin to read sections from it when she is a little older and can understand more.
Have you accessed any type of help or support with life story work?
Not yet but again I know Adoption Focus are always available should we need them
How has your child reacted to life story work?
So far her reactions are positive but it is very difficult for her to understand what has happened to her. There’s a picture of birth mum in her book and she knows the term birth mum but doesn’t understand the meaning yet. We look through it with her and say all of these words at a young age so that they just become the norm to her. She’ll grow up with all of the terminology and can develop an understanding of her history easily.