Birth Family Issues

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Hi, this is my first time posting here and I am looking for reassurance. We are eight weeks into placement and our LO is settling in well. After a visit from LO's SW today I am feeling a bit unsettled, LO's birth fathers family have contacted SS and passed them cards for LO etc, which is not something we have agreed to. We are happy with annual letterbox contact for both sides of birth family. However, birth father has previously queried parentage yet failed to turn up for an arranged DNA test...we have said we will do letterbox contact once a DNA test is done. I don't want the SW to think we are being obstructive but I feel that in the future our LO has a right to know one way or the other, and am uncomfortable maintaining letterbox contact to a family who may turn out not to be related. Yet I feel unsettled as I don't want SS to think we are being obstructive but feel that if birth father expressed doubts then it should be followed up before any letterbox arrangements. Thank you in advance for any responses.

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Have you been given a time for your annual contact to take place? I know mine is in April and October, well away from anyone's birthdays etc. if you do know and it's not yet time for letterbox, I would respectfully decline and ask for everyone to stick to the agreement. Also I would ask whether cards are allowed - my letterbox order specifically says no cards.

Eight weeks in is awfully soon to be dealing with letterbox contact, quite aside from any paternity issues. Can you maybe ask your own SW for advice? My LOs social worker hasn't been involved in many adoptive placements, so my own SW is much more clued in about these things.

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Nothing has been agreed at this point and as such we don't have any times for annual letterbox....we have discussed that it will be a letter without photos and not cards on birthdays/christmas. Have asked SW to keep hold of anything until such time that possible birth father attends for DNA testing. Am going to ring my SW tomorrow to see what she thinks....am inclined to agree with you with regards sticking to what has already been discussed re letterbox and SS can keep anything other than what is agreed on file for LO to look at in the future if desired. Just left me feeling a little overwhelmed after what has been a tough week with LO and myself being unwell :( Thanks for responding.

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Your scenario is similar to that which we encountered post placement – in our case we had an 'alleged' father named in all the paperwork, but not named on birth certificate. He never questioned paternity, he was happy to presume he was the birth father, and both he and his family were keen for letterbox contact. We ended up going with presumption and agreeing to letterbox contact (but only every few years).

The whole thing was a nightmare to be honest, we were somewhat forced into not chasing DNA (and we felt the same as you, DNA was something we felt strongly about – we wanted to give our daughter accurate information) because we were pre-adoption order. If the alleged father had proven his paternity at that stage, his legal position would've changed. He'd have gone from having little/no say in court (adoption order) proceedings to having a significant say. In short, it could have delayed/impeded our adoption order. It was a very worrying time.

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I'm going to ask you to consider this

My adopted son is now 18. To have ANYONE who was kind enough to show an interest in him is important. At the end of the day- neither of you are biologically related to your child and yet have full custody. But this man who may or may not be related and wants to have a part in his child's memory is to be ignored if the baby isn't his? You can see how odd this whole thing will seem to a young adult adoptee....

The person your adopted child will become will need to know he's worthy of care and love and one way to evidence this is someone who asked to be considered as his father.

I'd do one letter a year and out of courtesy.

I think the ? Over biology is important and needs addressing but think its seperate to letter box issues

Whether he's biologically father or not, he wants to know the child is ok and takes an interest.

That's really important.

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I would start by echoing what Peartree says above. We are in a similar situation to you, our DD has a putative father, who questioned paternity during the court proceedings but failed to attend for his DNA testing and the (IMO excellent) judge refused to delay matters further for him to be given another shot. We write to him and his mother twice a year, for the reasons PT has stated, the fact that someone is interested enough in our DD that they write will help her with the rejection she is most likely to feel as a teenager. How would you feel if someone took the time and effort to write to you twice a year for 18 years? I would suggest that regardless of their biological link to you, you would feel grateful.

That being said we have no plans to being anything other than truthful with DD (once she can understand, she is a bit little yet). We plan to say something like "this is the man who wanted to be your father, cared about you and loved you enough to take an interest in you for all these years, but there is a possibility that he isn't and he didn't attend the DNA test which may say something all on its own". I know how tough letter box can be especially when DD's paternal family refer to her as "our girl" (it always hits me hard) but whenever I find it tough I remind myself that I do this for her. I write long informative letters so she won't feel that I let her down or that I was thinking of myself, it is tough sometimes but I am hoping it will pay dividends in the future (I would settle for her being happy and well adjusted).

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We adopted our niece who is the youngest of a sibling group and have had letterbox contact for 11 years. Recently the adopted teens have got in touch with our daughter via Facebook and the biggest question from the oldest girl was "does anyone remember me" She wanted to know what memories I had of her and whether her nan remembered her. We had a get together earlier this year and on parting she was asking her Uncle what memories he had and could we send photos of her from the time when she was still in birth home.

So, I do agree that contact is vitally important to adoptees. It doesn't mean they haven't settled into their family or don't regard their adopters as their family .

I would be concerned about the father not taking the DNA test though - I do feel it is important to establish the truth asap

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There was a good thread on the old forum about contact. I must ask the mods if they can screen grab it.

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