Unexpectedly being contacted by your little brothers’ birth family on Facebook is a bit of a surprise, to say the least. But my brothers, then in their late teens, appeared to handle it well. My eldest little brother (let’s call him Peter) chatted to them himself, and I provided updates about my youngest little brother (let’s call him David), with his permission. I’m aware that unexpected contact through social media rarely goes this well. I believe that it was a blessing that it happened for our boys when they were almost adults, and not in their younger, more challenging, teen years.

I assumed that at some point in the future my brothers would want to meet up with their birth family in person. I knew if it was me, I would want to. I just really hoped that when they did, they would tell me. And fortunately, when Peter decided it was time, he let me know.

He was planning to just meet his big sister and her family. However, it turned into a family BBQ with lots of extended family and friends. And then his birth Mum, who he had not been expecting, turned up. She was in a less than desirable state, due to substance misuse. I felt for them both. Perhaps she got nervous and took something to try to calm down, perhaps she got her days muddled and hadn’t realised she would be seeing him that day. I can only speculate. Peter has never really talked about it.

Peter has stayed in touch with his siblings. Sometimes they see a lot of each other – even going on holiday together; other times they drift apart. He and his big brother look so similar. His birth brother told Peter that it was a good thing he was adopted; that it was the best thing for him. When Peter occasionally posts something on Facebook I comment, and so do his big brother and sister, saying ‘proud of you bro.’ That feels strange, but also heart-warming. We are both allowed to be his older siblings – he doesn’t have to choose between us.

Meanwhile, my littlest brother David signed up to Facebook to join a social group for his college course. His birth siblings added him as a friend, and they began chatting. Much to my surprise, he was happy to let me see their messages. It was just casual stuff; football, what they had for dinner, his college course, their kids. It put my mind at ease.

Then one evening he was on a video call with them. My Mum said he came down from his room and introduced them to our parents. My biggest worry, as a big sister, was always that our boys would shut us out when it came to contact. It was lovely to be involved and be able to support them. 

During this time, I myself became an adoptive Mum. Whilst working on my son’s life story book, I felt strongly that I should try to support David in thinking about direct contact with his birth family. Our adoptive parents had tried multiple times but he had shut them down. I decided that if he wouldn’t engage with Mum or his social worker, then I would have a go.

I took him out for lunch and cautiously and gently raised the subject. Some time later, Mum told me that she and David were going to meet his big sister and her family. I was delighted he was taking Mum with him, though I admit I felt a little disappointed that he wasn’t taking me too. It went well, and there’s a lovely photo of them all together.

Now I sit here reflecting on my brothers’ contact journeys. Overall I think that re-building a relationship with their birth family has been a very good thing for them. This experience has also made me reflect on contact for my own children, who are still very young. It’s letterbox just now, but how will the future pan out? I just hope we can make it work as well as it’s worked so far for my brothers.

Author: Hope Green