Contact: How hard can it be?

I’m going to be really controversial! I belive in direct contact with birth family, for adopted children when safe to have it. I adopted two siblings with my partner. Our girls are now 20 and 18 respectively. When we adopted, direct contact was not given to us as an option.  And to be completely transparent I am not sure that my partner would have agreed at the time. 

But looking back while our oldest settled well and has not really been greatly curious about her birth family, our youngest daughter has seemed to be searching for something most of her life. It appears to me that she thought that there was another family that she would feel more a part of, more grounded in, and so over the years she maybe developed fantasies about her birth parents. 

It was only when at 14 she met her birth sibling and grandmother that she realised that her fantasies about them were exactly that. That she understood more detail about how they came into care, and why. We could only tell them what we were told but now they had the views of someone there at the time.

It seemed to release something in her mind and she was much more engaged with us, her adopted family after that. 

I wonder whether, if we had met birth family earlier that struggle could have  reduced or even avoided. 

I myself as an adult grew up within trans-racial adoption, and I am sure that meeting my American birth Father would have helped me understand my culture and back ground.  To allow me to build better links with my own culture. 

I am not advocating frequent contact with birth family necessarily but I do think when safe to do so, enabling children to know and see where they came from could save them from having unrealistic fantasies about who their birth family is. 

I work in a team supporting care leavers who have been in residential or foster care.  Quite a few young people once 18, go back to live with birth parents, only to discover for themselves the true reasons they were removed so many years before. 

And sadly this does not always go well. So I think however good or hard reality is, it is important that children and young people know their true story. And where possible have a realistic picture of the reasons they are in care.

Have you had experiences with contact with birth family? How did they go? 

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