Contact with their birth family, usually via yearly written updates, is extremely important for an adopted child. It helps them understand their identity. And to build a bond with their birth family which lays a foundation to build on when they’re older.
During our preparation course, we spent a lot of time learning about contact and how important it is to keep it up. The social workers explained however hard we found it, it was in our future child’s best interests that we committed to it. I’m pretty sure if we’d said at matching Panel we weren’t sure we’d want to keep up with indirect contact, the match to our daughter wouldn’t have been approved.
Unfortunately, the reality of contact for us hasn’t matched anything close to our expectations. Our daughter’s social worker left the agency just before the adoption order was granted. Another social worker was appointed so that all the local authority boxes were ticked. But she knew very little about our daughter’s case.
Some of the work that should have been done for her life story book wasn’t. I chased it with our social worker several times but the work wasn’t done. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t the end of the world. I know what’s missing. Based on the information we have, I’m sure I’ll be able to put something together.
An omission in the life story work is something we can address. Not organising contact at all is a whole different kettle of fish.
We struggled massively with our decision not to be considered as carers for our daughter’s little brother. I’ve written here about how we came to that decision. One of the things that helped ease my conscience about saying no, was that our social worker said direct contact could be an option. That would mean our daughter could still have a relationship with her brother as they grew up.
We knew it would be up to her brother’s adopters, but we were confident that direct contact was going to be considered. We trusted the local authority to promote the relationship between our daughter and her brother.
Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Contact wasn’t at the forefront of our minds in the months following our decision to say no to little brother. We concentrated on our daughter and strengthening the bond within our little family of three.
Every now and then it did cross my mind and I wondered when we’d hear that contact was going to start. We do our annual indirect contact in the summer. In the spring, I realised we still hadn’t heard anything about contact with little brother. At the very least, I’d expected an updated agreement including him in the annual contact. So, I emailed our social worker. It’s probably something that should be dealt with by the post adoption team, but our social worker is really lovely so it was a good excuse to contact her.
I can’t begin to tell you how let down I felt by her reply. She had nothing at all to do with family finding for little brother so it wasn’t her fault. But basically, contact of any type had been completely overlooked. So there was no contact agreement in place and no discussions had taken place about direct contact.
Clearly, the local authority have messed up big time with this. But I do wonder why little brother’s adopters didn’t ask about letterbox contact. They’ll have learned about the importance of it during their training. Why didn’t they asked for it to be set up? I know it’s not the first thing you think about once you’re matched. But it’s such an important part of the process.
I’m annoyed with myself for not chasing it up sooner. There’s no excuse for it other than I trusted that the local authority would do what they said they would.
Little brother’s family have been contacted and have said they are prepared to do an annual update. I really hope this will lay the foundations for direct contact in the future.