One thing I have to get to grips with this year is contact with J’s birth family. This is much easier said than done, mostly because it’s a complex family like many adopted children’s.
J has three siblings, and no provision for contact with them was made by the Courts either when he was placed in care, or when I adopted him. He has an older half sister who was fostered by a member of the extended family, we think on her father’s side, and is now believed to be living independently. I’m not sure that J and her have ever met. Last time we heard, his younger half brother and half sister, who he has certainly never met, were being brought up together by their paternal grandparents. J also had an older half brother who sadly died when he was just a few weeks old.We had yearly letterbox contact (exchange of letters) with his birthmother, V, for the first three years. Then she stopped writing, and it may or may not be a coincidence that that’s when my formal adoption of J went through. The Local Authority no longer have an address for her and when I asked, told me that they do not offer a finding service. We know that she has gone missing for extended periods in the past, really only surfacing when the LA has made great efforts to find her, so this is not unusual. In her absence, the Local Authority’s letterbox coordinator feels my role is to accept it and support J in understanding that V has not been able to stay in touch, and that this is not his fault. My gut tells me though that we should be trying again to reach out to her, because in the end it is good for J to maintain contact, not least because he might want to meet her when he is older. I met V once, and liked her a lot. I think she might welcome renewed contact instigated by us. She has had an extraordinarily challenging life and has suffered from depression, and that will not have made it easier for her to stay in touch. Against this, I have to weigh up the considerable risks to J’s wellbeing of an attempt at renewed contact which comes to nothing.
We have had one exchange of letters with his older half-sister four years ago. Unfortunately, this coincided with my illness and treatment, when I really wasn’t focused on contact. Since then, I have twice asked the Local Authority to find out if she is still living at the same address so that we can resume contact, and they have done nothing.
Five or six years ago, when I asked the Local Authority to be in touch with her, the younger children’s grandmother said that they needed time to settle, after separating from V, which I entirely understand. Since then I have asked the Local Authority to be in touch with her to see how the land lies, but again, they have done nothing.
So this year, I need to do some serious managing of this situation, to ensure that we at least do our best to initiate contact with each of these key family members.
I wrote this post in response to the #WASO Weekly Adoption Shout Out theme of Resolution.