Seven years later we got a letter

We know that writing letters is not easy but it is important for adopters to continue with letterbox contact, even when there is no response.

Adoptive parents value the exchange of letters as a way of keeping the birth family ‘alive’ in the adoptive family, reducing the child’s sense of rejection, answering their questions and keeping up to date with changes in the birth family.

Letterbox contact can help to reassure birth relatives about how the child is getting on, provide an opportunity for them to try and ease the child’s sense of loss or rejection and keep in touch with their development, seeing likenesses as they get older. Successful letterbox contact can also help to prepare everybody involved for future meetings during childhood or adulthood.

Here, a local adoptive parent shares their experience when they received their first letter from the birth father, who they have been writing to for seven years. The birth father stated he loved reading the letters but had not known what to write until now.

“We have always had a positive view of letterbox contact and this has developed even more over the years, we were undeterred by the lack of letters sent back.

“During the pandemic we received a letter from birth mother every year, for two consecutive years, yet we have never received anything further, even though we sent two further letters. This however, does not deter us, as we know the importance of the letters both for our daughter but also for her birth parents – we know how hard it is for them to write back.

“Despite having never received a letter from our daughter’s birth father (and birth mother, at the time) we decided to start adding photos into our letters. Initially, the photos were taken of her doing an activity where you couldn’t see her face. She would be wearing a hat, or climbing up a tree. Then this year we enclosed a photo where you can see her full face.

“While we have always had a positive view of letterbox we have become even more focussed on the importance of us sharing the right information in a way that is personal, friendly and reassuring to the birth parents. Our most recent letter had a much more personal feel to it. We wanted to make sure the letter gave a real sense of who our daughter is and also finished the letter by saying;

” ‘…we appreciate this is probably the hardest letter to receive, but really hope we are giving you a sense of who she is.’ 

“Then we got a response from birth father after seven years!

“In his letter he says he has loved all the letters but has not known what to write until now. He said the photo means the world to him and he will write again. We were overjoyed and emotional to get a response and such a lovely letter.

“Our advice to other adoptive families is to keep writing even if you don’t get a response. What we know for our daughter is that the letters have been read, but until now, it has been clearly too hard to write back.

“We will continue to write our letters in a more personal manner and include photos.

“We want the birth parents to be able to get a sense of who our daughter is and to trust us, so when the day comes for our daughter to meet them, we want to have built a foundation.

“For us, our letters are all about our daughter; they are about her and for her. Not us.”