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The first contact package we received did not go down well with our son, who was very little at the time.  It contained a book his birth mum had made about herself. It was very emotional and, whilst it was her truth, was too dysregulating for a young child. 

This was followed by a CAMHS referral, following a difficult time, where we were heavily criticised for having shown the book to him and told we should seek advice from post adoption support regarding further letters we might receive (we had done so at the time – they had said it was great!). So, fast forward a couple of years and you can imagine our trepidation at showing our son a further letter which, though shorter, could potentially have a similar effect.

Fortunately, a second CAMHS referral came through and I was able to discuss both letters with a psychologist who took into consideration my son’s needs at that time.  He talked me through the differences between the two contacts and showed how while the first could be too much, though certainly invaluable at some point in the future, the second was lighter, chattier, warm, but not as emotionally charged.

With the letter okayed by CAMHS I went off and thought about when would be a good time to share it with my son.  Time went on, and on, and the good time never seemed to reveal itself.  Life with complex children is tricky to navigate at the best of times. 

One morning, I found my son crying while looking at his life story book.  I called school, explained we would be late and went to comfort my son.  He was telling me how sad it made him, that he couldn’t be with his birth mum, that he didn’t know where she was and that he didn’t know if she loved him anymore.  I did my best to listen, comfort and empathise.  We talked and I reminded him of when I and my partner had met her and how she’d made it so clear that she wanted the best for him, and for him to be happy as he grew up. 

Then I remembered the letter, I asked if he’d like to see it, he replied ‘yes’ tearfully.  We read it together.  As we made our way through and she asked about events such as Halloween, Bonfire night and Christmas, he visibly lightened.  The letter demonstrated an interest, common ground, reassurance that she loved and cared for him, but also that she hoped, above all, that he was enjoying his life.

We are now back in a contact void with social services unwilling to take any steps to find and assist her in replying to our last two letters.