For today’s blog I had planned to write a really lovely post about how much we enjoyed our first family holiday abroad to Menorca last week, but if you follow us on Instagram or Facebook then you’ll know that it wasn’t quite the perfect trip I had envisaged. Quite frankly I need a kid-free holiday to recover, so I’ll save that joy for a cold wintery day when perhaps I’m reflecting more fondly on the whole experience.
Instead I thought I’d share a bit about how I’m feeling at the moment as we have just posted our first letters to the boys birth family through a process called ‘Letterbox Contact’. This is where once a year we will write to them to let them know how the kids are getting on and an opportunity to ask questions that the boys may have when they get older, i.e. who do I get my blue eyes and my wicked sense of humour from etc. The idea is that they will respond once a year also.
We’ve known since the start of the adoption process that this was something we were going to have to do and have never really been fazed by the idea. I kinda get the rationale behind it and have always thought it will give us a great opportunity to ask important questions that may help the boys have a sense of ‘identity’ as they grow up.
But until this week I never really appreciated just how hard it was going to be writing it!
I’ve spent a bit of time reading examples of letters that the social work team had given us, but starting to write about my boys to someone who I’m sure feels that they are their boys too is extremely hard.
Some of the examples I read felt really cold, just basic facts like ‘he likes to eat pizza’, ‘he enjoys football and cricket’ or ‘he started school this year’. Obviously I’m not going to write a 10,000 word essay detailing their lives now and I’m certainly not going to give any identifiable information over, but to me the person who is going to receive this letter, despite what they did or what went on, is someone who has faced the biggest loss any parent could and is still a human with feelings at the end of the day.
So I got going quite easily, introducing us (first names only, which they already know), talking about the how the boys are getting on, what they like, what they don’t like etc and before I knew it I’d pretty much wrote the best part of two sides of A4… anyone would think I enjoyed writing about the kids 🤷♂🤣. But it was all the ‘cold’ stuff and it didn’t sit right with me.
In the example letters, people talked about how much they and their families loved their children, but there was no recognition of how that must make the birth parent [reader] feel and reading some of them just made me feel like they were ‘rubbing it in’.
I re-read what I’d written so far and it did just feel like gloating. I think throughout the process I’ve always suffered with what I would term ‘adopters guilt’, like I’m responsible for taking their children off them, which I know is absolutely ridiculous, because the reality is they kinda did it themselves… and if we can’t accept that, then let’s just blame social services.
I finished the letter off talking about how much the boys were loved and part of our family but against the grain, and probably what social workers would advise against, I tried to show some empathy towards them.
I wrote about how hard it must be to hear that but that I wanted them to feel as reassured as possible that the boys are going to be ok. In my mind I’m also thinking about what life might be like in 18 years time, these people might be part of our lives, because that may be what the boys want, so I want to try and foster a positive ‘relationship’ with them from the start.
I talked in the letter about how we will always talk about them respectfully and that I hoped we could ask questions over the years in order to help the boys understand their own identities and background, because after all the boys growing up to be happy, healthy and sound individuals has got to be a shared aspiration, right?
After I finished drafting, my other half did the grammar check (as norm) and I could see he wasn’t quite as comfortable with the ’emotional’ parts and would have preferred the cold approach. But I couldn’t, that just aint me!
But I can’t help feel now [too late] that might have been more about appeasing my ‘adopters guilt’? Christ, as if writing it wasn’t bad enough, now I’m second guessing it 😫. Well, it’s gone off now so there’s not a lot I can do other than hope it is read in the spirit it was written.
I’d love to hear what others think or have experienced as it’s so new to me!