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Considering Initiating Direct Contact with Birth Family

GreenBottle March 10, 2022 11:12

I have been considering for a long time about the possibility of initiating some difrerct contact with our son's birth family. Does anyone have any experiences of initiating direct contact when previously there was only letter-box contact in place? Our son was placed with us when he was two and is now ten. His birth family live a long way from us so we do not run the risk of bumping into them day to day. But I am aware that direct contact could possibly open up all sorts of issues. If done correctly, I also feel it could help our son to grow and develop with a better sense of self and help to raise his own self-esteem. Any thoughts. welcomed.

Serrakunda27 March 11, 2022 09:21

My son was nearly 8 when he came home, he is 17 now. Direct contact with dad and a younger brother was part of the agreement, Whilst is principle I support direct contact, the reality is, its fraught with difficulty, was incredibly stressful for me, and has heaped disappintment and more rejection on my son.

So proceed very cautiously. Has your son asked himself to see birth family. If not I would leave it alone at this point. Instead I would look for proper theraputic life story work, after which if he asks about it, ask social services for support in doing so.

You need to be very careful what messages you would be sending to the birth family if you initiated contact - what do you think their expectations might be? For example, your son might be happy with a one off meeting, but you have opened the door. What if they want more, what if they gain enough information from one visit to find you and try to contact you or your son independently.

Within 10 minutes of our first meeting after placement my son had given away the name of his new school and the city where we live.

In our case, dad just couldnt maintain the commitment, leading to disappointment after disappointment when he failed to show up. At 17 my son is hurt to the core but gives a good show of not caring. He brother has sadly ended up in residential care, he is deeply traumatised and has at times unleashed the most horrendous verbal abuse on my son, He gave information to cousins, which found its way to birth mum who tracked my son down on facebook, though fortunately has never made contact.

its very difficult as they approach the teenage years, there is a fear that they may try and find birth family themselves. But at this stage if I were you, I’d go down the life story work first and explore what he feels about meeting them, and see where you are at that point.

Donatella March 11, 2022 14:08

My son considered trying to trace one of his birth siblings last year at 19. They’ve never met nor had any previous contact. I had a long conversation with a post adoption sw and her advice was to wait. Her view was that even at 19 he was unlike to have the emotional maturity to be able to deal with any potential fall out. My son and I discussed it and he could see that it was sensible. He wants to finish his education first and, for now, that needs to be his primary focus.

Does your son want you to initiate contact?

From the age of 6 my middle son was able to articulate that he absolutely did not want any sort of contact with any of his birth family. He knows they send birthday cards - in fact we spoke about it yesterday as he has a birthday approaching - and he’s, again, said that he’s not ready to even look at the cards and doesn’t think he will be for quite some time.

What do you feel would the benefits of direct contact? How much contact? In any event I would advise doing it through social services but maybe some good quality therapeutic lifestory work first.

chestnuttree March 11, 2022 17:44

We are having longstanding direct contact with siblings. The positives have been that my children have very strong links into the past and that has helped with their sense of identity and their understanding of their life story. My kids love their siblings and are loved by them and we all support each other. It has normalised some MH struggles for all of them. My children can see what certain choices mean in the long run. My children have seen how fraught with rejection sm contact with their birth parents is, so they have made no attempts at contact (so far). We are lucky that the siblings are incredibly generous emotionally and have never openly voiced resentment about my children being adopted and having much more support than them.

However, while things were relatively simple when they were young, things are much more complicated now. It adds a lot of extras to process and cope with to our life, eg. crimes committed against siblings and by siblings. Seeing what certain choices can result in is very tough when it concerns a loved one. The siblings have sm contact with the birth parents and could potentially share information about us.

I agree with the others that you also need to consider the expectations and feelings of the birth family. Loosing a child is hugely traumatic. You need to go about it in a responsible way not only with regards to your child, but also the birth family, if you choose to do it. Personally, I would not initiate a relationship at this stage. When my children speak about contact with their birth parents, I always encourage them to do it in their late 20s, when they are hopefully relatively settled.

Donatella March 11, 2022 22:42

I think chestnuttree makes an important point - it’s not just about your/my child but also about how it will impact on birth family. My son’s sibling was also adopted however from what little we know, that adoption has been quite different to my son’s and so we had to consider the impact contact would have had on his sibling. His sibling may have found the different experiences difficult.

It’s all very complex.

For now, my son has decided against any contact. Instead he’s focusing on adoption as his dissertation topic!

GreenBottle March 17, 2022 09:49

Thanks for your replies. I think I posted my question because I was interested to hear if anyone felt direct contact with birth family, and in particular birth parents and grandparents, has been helpful to them or not. I realise there would be huge impact on our family and birth family, and it must be a very tricky path to tread. I also appreciate that even as what is classed as 'an adult' can still be too young to process all the feelings that can go alongside having direct contact.

I don't think at this stage we are anywhere close to actually trying to initiate direct contact, but I suppose I have slightly begun to doubt that this idea of 'absolute cut-off from all birth family' is the best option. We do have letterbox contact but so far we have not involved our son in that, so maybe I will ask him if he would like to write a letter. Our son has always been quite reluctant to do any life-story work or talk about his early life, so I am probably getting ahead of myself even posing the question above. We do get some lovely letters from a birth grandparent and I suppose I think its such a shame that there can't be some contact there. But maybe I just have to accept that it isn't to be.

Edited 17/03/2022


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