Tag Archives: birth family

Letterbox contact from a birth family perspective

Today’s The Blog post is from an anonymous contributor, and looks at Letterbox from a perspective that we’ve not had on The Adoption Social before. We’d love to see more posts from a wide range of people who have been affected by or are involved with adoption, do contact us if you’d like to contribute.

When I was nineteen, I met a girl my age called Emily.
Emily was warm, bubbly and hilarious. She was the single parent to her six week old daughter, Ella. Emily and I became the best of friends. I love children, and spending time with Ella was the highlight of every day. I was going through a pretty tough time myself, and spending time with Emily and Ella was precious.
I was aware that Emily had a history of mental health problems, but saw little evidence of this in my interactions with her. Emily was an attentive mother to her daughter – Ella was always well dressed and had all the latest toys and baby gear. 

first birthdayThings started to change just after Ella’s first birthday.

Emily became withdrawn and sulky, and professionals commented that they were concerned about the about of stimulation that baby Ella was receiving. It’s a long and tragic story, but suffice to say, Emily’s mental health continued to deteriorate.
At the age of two, Ella went into foster care, and at the age of four she was adopted. Emily has been in inpatient psychiatric care since the week that Ella was taken away. 

I think to bystanders, normal members of the public, adoption is often seen as a good guy, bad guy, clear-cut scenario. The well-educated, financially stable, middle class adopter takes in the child of the person who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do the right thing by their children.

As a direct result of my relationship with Emily and Ella, I decided to return to education, and I am currently a trainee Social Worker.  I find myself in a strange situation, having letterbox contact with Ella, while also training to support mums like Emily.
When writing to the adoptive family, I feel inferior and inadequate. As if somehow I should have stopped Ella from being hurt, as if I could have done something more to help. I feel like I have hurt Ella, or at least not done enough to help her. Logically I know that’s not true.
Part of the reason for these feelings, I suppose, is the (completely necessary) secrecy that surrounds the adoption and contact process. All I know is the adopters’ first names. I don’t know which town Ella is living in, I don’t know her surname or where she goes to school. I completely understand why this needs to be the case, but it has the effect of making me feel the bad guy. As if, if I knew where she was, I might go and try and see her. As if I’m untrustworthy. As if I would ever do anything to harm that family, who have looked after Ella when Emily, and I, couldn’t. 

letterboxLetterbox contact involves writing to the adopter, it is down to their discretion whether they show the child any letters or pictures that are sent, and at what age. For me, I’m not fussed about whether Ella is seeing the letters I send- I have no doubt that she will have no idea who I am now, she wouldn’t recognise me if she passed me in street. But I do hope that they are being kept. When Ella grows up, she will have a lot of questions, and I never want her to think that it was a clear-cut situation- that she was not wanted or loved.  Its funny because I work with families every day who are in very similar situations to Emily and Ella and don’t bat an eyelid. Yet when the time comes to write the annual letter I cry like a baby myself.

There has been nothing clear-cut about this process. It was necessary for baby Ella to be cared for by someone who could meet all of her needs, I have no doubt about that. But Ella missed every day. Letterbox contact is a lifeline, but it isn’t any easier for the birth family than the adoptive one. 

5 minutes to myself

Today a birth mum talks about her experience of having her children removed for adoption…..

5 minutes to myself. I never thought my life would be so busy.

Its been a year since my son was officially adopted by his foster carers. It’s gone so quickly it feels strange that its only been official 5 minutes.
That’s it now for me job done!!!
After being in a domestically physically and mentally, violent and abusive relationship for almost 7 years, its truly game over for me.

The kid’s dad and I were both in our early 20s. The children were all spoke about and indeed tried for.
Coming from broken families ourselves we both wanted the relationship to work but on different levels.
Being human is not easy. My first two children live together now. I’ve had one photograph with my letterbox contact of them both together. I love that they’re happy and together and just doing and being normal kids.
I’ve met both sets of adoptive parents. Due to my son’s adoptive parents also being his foster parents they were there the whole way through all the child protection / safeguarding meetings. It was a strange time for me. I’d finally made the break from the relationship and got a place in a women’s refuge. I was so stressed I didn’t notice my periods had stopped, when I did I thought I had an infection. All the children are have the same dad. 22 weeks the midwife told me as she scanned my belly ‘WHAT?’ and there he was. A gangly armed gangly legged baby. The most handsome boy in the whole world. BIASED!!!5minutes
I did chuckle. We’d always said we wanted 3 but after problems in the relationship with the first two I didn’t think the third would show up.
When it was decided that my fickleness was a potential problem stopping my son from living with me I requested that he went with the first two.
It went to an adoption panel and was decided that he would stay where he was. I was gutted. To me it meant that my innocent children would never have a normal family life. It was probably the first time I felt guilty as a mother.
I’d always reassured myself that phoning the police, reporting the violence and being honest with the social workers was the right thing.
I had faith in the system that the children who find themselves in it aren’t just given away. Surely there’s checks, classes and on going support offered. I knew I wouldn’t get any support from my family the ‘divorce’ ruined any ‘family’ we had years ago.
Its taken me a  while but the court ordered that sibling and letterbox contact is to take place. I’ve always received my letters, photos, pictures and cards so I’m sure that eventually I’ll get a picture of all three of them together.
I’m back in full time education now. Catching up on all the things I should and would have done if only I’d had the stability to grow from.
I was baptised, received and confirmed in Easter….and last month I turned 30 eeeek 30 agggghh its official….lol.
That’s all I hope for my kids now is that through the adoptive parents, who for whatever reason have chosen to adopt, I hope my kids have each other and stability to be and do the best they can do in life.
Were all human beings and no one said THAT was going to be easy.
Fingers crossed and round for next year and that picture of all 3.
Merry xmas and a happy 2014 x
We’re very grateful to the writer of this piece for sharing her story, she wishes to remain anonymous. However she has suggested the Natural Parents Network as a useful contact to accompany this post, they can be found at http://n-p-n.co.uk/

A Story in the Making (Continued)

We previously heard form Alison Bates and her decision to trace her birth family, read more here. Today she updates us on what happened next… books “What would you like to happen next?” my adoption counsellor asked me recently, about a current situation, an impasse with my birth family. I was stuck, I had no idea. Instead, I continued to become more and more immersed in the world of blogging, an antidote to all that was going on. In so doing, I continued to marvel at the wonders of modern technology. Without it, I would not have been able to write my own story of adoption, as I would never have been able to access the history of my birth family. And also without it, I would not have been able to connect with a community of people – other writers for one, and also those that have been affected by adoption. Thankfully, there are many blogs around, available at the click of a mouse, or similar, where one can partake of ideas, inspiration, information. I have grown as a writer in consequence, and a whole new world has been opened up to me in other ways.

Reading the various adoption blogs around, I am deeply touched with the day to day accounts of parents dealing with the upbringing of adopted children for example.

There are so many aspects to adoption, so many sides. I feel privileged to be able to step into the world of others, who have experienced the fallout of adoption, as well as bittersweet memories, hands on help, and much else. I am not an adoptive parent, but I grew up having adoptive parents. I am an adoptee, a badge I wear with a certain amount of pride, and at times a little shame. The latter is ridiculous I know, but that is what adoption is about, moving through all the different stages, being buffeted, shocked, grief stricken, hurt, and coming through it as best one can. Adoption is for life. The act of writing, putting a virtual – or real – pen to paper, is so valuable; to be able to pour out and share, and enable others to read. I cannot rest unless I write, and soon I will have a blog of my own, where I intend to share my thoughts on books written on the subject of adoption, and the progress of my own story. But for now, I am grateful to the team at Adoption Social for letting me blog here, on this wonderful site. So far I have written Part One of my story, started Part Two, and have fast tracked to the end – the climax, followed by the start of a penultimate chapter and a sketchy denouement. Now there is a yawning gap in the middle – ‘the ugly middle’ as it has been described in a posting on one of the writer’s blogs I follow.

Yes – the ugly middle – the nitty gritty of the story, a story I have experience both first and second hand, am still experiencing.

Having started out with an idea – the alternating of a diary with a kind of ‘blog’, and a back story novel treatment, I began to smell burning rubber. Something wasn’t right – the format wasn’t right. I experimented by just reading over the back story novel, and found that it held perfectly together without all the other stuff – material that had got me started in the first place. Nothing wasted then, it could all be used later, in the novel itself. It was all down to structure, and I began to do a bit of research. I was falling between two stools. Then, thanks to another writers’ blog site, I read a wonderful posting about structuring a novel. I wasn’t entirely ignorant of this subject, but was attracted to a book on which the blog was based. I purchased it from Amazon, and am devouring it, section by section. It is both fascinating and invaluable. Now I am in the planning stages of the ugly middle. The story arc, every plot point, both major and minor, every scene, every event, every chapter, to be ordered, cross referenced, so that the tale of the two main protagonists, a birth mother and her adopted daughter tie together in a coherent fashion. It is scary, but also exciting. And I have committed myself to the e-book I intend to get out there, complete with cover design, so there is no turning back.

Whether it is blogging, writing a story or a book – the act of getting it down on virtual paper, is cathartic, I can’t recommend it enough. It helps, it cleanses, it invigorates, it even solves problems.

A problem yet unsolved for me in real life has been solved in my makeshift denouement. “What would I like to happen next?”

It’s a good question.

You can email Alison at  adopted.alison.bates@gmail.com

A Story in the Making

 Today an adoptee Alison Bates, tells us about her search for her birth parents and how this has lead her to writing a book.

puzzle piece

Two years ago, as I approached sixty years of age, I decided to delve into my past. Adopted as a baby at six months old, I grew up believing that my biological mother had died giving birth to me, a fantasy as it turned out which has had considerable effects upon my life.

The start of my search was sparked off in the early nineties when I discovered that one of my cousins, also adopted, had set about finding out about his own origins, an action which first produced the idea that I might one day do the same. His journey of discovery was however quickly snuffed out by a resounding rebuff, and I was left in no doubt that to do such a thing might well be hazardous. Besides, my adoptive mother was still alive then, and given the social circumstances at the time of my adoption there was no way I was going to embark on research into an unknown quantity and cause us both needless distress.

After my Mum’s death in 1997 my life took on a new direction and I became immersed in relocation and the setting up of a business.

Always though, at the back of my mind, lay that missing puzzle piece. I began to question as well, began to wonder. What if I had not been told the truth as a child by my adoptive parents, what if my birth mother had lived?

Each advancing year I put the thought to the back of my mind – I’d do it later. But the idea that my birth mother might actually still be alive nagged at me, knowing that time was running out. Once, I even went so far as to lift the phone and dial the number of my local Citizens’ Advice Bureau but no-one answered. It was not meant to be – yes – I really would do it later.

Other seeds were planted too – a friend who was heavily into ancestry research, giving talks to a local historical society and spending much of his spare time looking at records and putting together his family tree. An archivist by nature this frustrated me, and I confess to being somewhat envious, and it set me wondering again, this time about where I had come from, who were my ancestors, who did I look like and were there any blood relations that I could perhaps get to know? Yet, still the thought persisted, did I really want to uncover a possible lie?

Then one morning in January 2011 I woke up, knowing that I had to do it, a compulsion so strong that I could put it off no longer.

This was the year I would take action, perhaps before it was too late. But what would I uncover?  – facts too upsetting to contemplate, secrets too miserable to bear, situations too difficult to penetrate?

And so not only did I embark that morning on a journey of discovery which was later to be assisted by an adoption agency, a government body and a charity, but also through my own writing which began to take me on my own personal journey, reaching previously unknown emotional depths that forced me to re-appraise my entire life.

‘Adopted’ is a story in the making, as the journey now continues over two and a half years since that waking moment of decision. It started as a kind of diary in the form of communications with myself and others, knowing that one day I would tell it. Then, several months ago I reached the point at which I could no longer hold it all in and I began in earnest.

The delay had been partly due to other commitments, but also because I was unsure how to go about it. Then an idea started to emerge and I decided to experiment with it – I’d tell the story from different perspectives – mainly from my own, first in the form of a loose diary and, secondly, a kind of musing back over my past life. The third part is based upon the research into my past, my ancestry and my birth family, as they have come to light through different sources of information, and is being treated like a historical novel which gradually comes up to date. It is in its early stages but I have a plan of sorts and now that I have started it I know that I can tell it in the best way I know how.

 It is the tale of a woman who has lived her life with guilt and regret, an older couple who adopt her child, and me, who is that child.