Renfrewshire Council

Letterbox contact - keeping in touch for birth parents and adopted children

Social work assistant, Kayleigh Wilson reflects on her role this Adoption Week Scotland

Image of social work assistant Kayleigh Wilson Kayleigh works with birth families whose child or children have been adopted. With this year's Adoption Week Scotland theme focused on the connection with past, present and future family, we asked her to tell us a bit about her role and what it means to those families she supports.

Kayleigh said: "Supporting birth families can be difficult and emotional for everyone involved but is hugely rewarding. I enjoy my role because I have helped the child, adoptive family and birth family maintain a link. This link can provide opportunities for the child to gather lots of important information about their family history, such as their birth family's health information. It's also a way to learn things like what their birth parents or sibling's favourite food or hobbies are, and things that they may have in common."

Kayleigh has been working with birth families and adoptive parents during the last three and a half years, helping them to exchange information with each other, known as letterbox contact.

"Letterbox contact helps to encourage and support healthy continued relationships between a child and their birth family. I co-ordinate the letters between adoptive families and birth families and offer support primarily to birth parents but can also support adoptive parents. It can help maintain links for a child and support them to have a positive sense of identity and also reassure a child about how their birth family are."

These birth mums told us how exchanging information with adoptive parents has supported them.

Sarah said, "I get to know how the girls are doing, what they are into and what they've been up to. It's all very positive and I don't feel there are any challenges in keeping this contact going. It's nice to know others will get the same support as I do. I am always happy to give any information about myself or any knowledge I have about their birth dads or answer any question the girls or their adopters have."

Mary said, "It goes quite well for us. We, of course, miss him and it's nice to get an update once per year. The worker helped me make a memory box, that has things like his hospital wristband and our update letters in it. We have a good relationship with our worker and it's such a good thing to have set up. I haven't fallen out with any workers for years now."

Early next year, we will soft launch this service, known as Birth Connections, to all birth families who experience adoption, even if it happened years ago or they are just going through the pre-adoption stages. It will include individual and peer support, particularly emotional support but also advice and linking into other services. Where possible, it will also support birth families and adoptive parents to exchange information.

We'd like to thank Kayleigh for talking to us about her work. Sarah and Mary are not the real names of the birth mums.

Published on Friday 18 November 2022