As it’s National Story telling week, we wanted to focus on the best story of all – our own. When a child is adopted it’s important to keep contact with their past to complete their own story.
It’s such its a good time to think about adoptive children and the forms of contact they can keep with their past, including letterbox contact, later life letters and life story books.
Adopted children have already been through so much trauma and loss in their short lives. Adoption is something that is not kept a secret from children any more, and it’s important for them to understand their history and what happened to them in the past as this can help with their sense of identity, and help with their self-esteem and confidence.
When you’re being matched with a child a matching plan is completed by the Local Authority and child’s Social Worker. Within this plan, there will be future arrangements for contact. It’s the responsibility of you, the adoptive parents, to uphold this plan and ensure that contact is carried out. Although It may be difficult at times for you to keep up the contact, it’s important for the benefit of your child that you do so.
Letterbox contact is a common form of contact and takes place in the form of letters between the adoptive parents and birth parents. The letters are sent via the Local Authority and then sent on to the recipient.
After three months of your child’s placement, you’ll be expected to make indirect contact with the child’s birth family by writing a letter to let them know how their child is settling in. After this, contact letters should be sent on a yearly basis.
Later Life Letter
Your child’s Social Worker will write a letter to the child ready for them to open later on in their life, at a time that the adoptive parents deem right.
This letter will be given to the adoptive parents post adoption, approximately 10 days after the celebration hearing, which is when the adoption is made legal.
This is an important letter for your adopted child as it explains what happened to them in their past and why they were in care. There may be information about their birth parents and birth relatives, names, ages and physical characteristics. Many details that the adoptive parents will have never otherwise have is included – and they’re all details that will help your child understand who they are. These letters l may include both positive and negative details about their past.
Life Story Book
Another great tool for helping your child’s identity and understanding of their past is to create a Life Story book. This is a book that gives them details of their family, their social worker, their foster carer(s) and why they were taken in to care.
There are fantastic resources that can help you put together a Life Story Book. As this is such an important book to your child, we encourage you to put time and effort into it and really make it special. These books can be ongoing – so if you and your family have had a great day out, take and print pictures and add them in. It’ll all help your child build attachments with you, and develop their identity.
There are other types of contact between a child’s birth parents, other birth family members and even siblings, sometimes including face to face contact, and many tools and resources available for you to help your child understand and develop and we encourage you to explore them.
Even though some subjects may be difficult, it’s important that you bear in mind that it’s for the benefit of your child to include them.