Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reconnecting through letters...

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with many of our adoptive parents about  communicating with birth parents. For some of them, this is scary--some have never had contact with the birth parent. A few weeks ago, Deanne shared some ideas on how to create Letters for Birthparents. Here are my thoughts on how to create a letter for families that adopted 16+ years ago and are trying to reconnect--or maybe even connect for the first time!

I often hear "Where do I start?" Ok, before you pick up a pencil or hit the first key on your keyboard, I want you to think about a few things. Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down some ideas!

1.   Do you know her/his first name? Sometimes starting the letter is the hardest part! Some choose to start the letter with "Dear Birthmom"... or use the nickname that you have been calling them in your home over the years. Please know it is also ok to say "Dear Birthmom, We don't even know your name but you have been in our hearts so much over the years...." Remember, they may not know your name either!

2.   What are some of your best memories since the last time you communicated with the birth parents? If this is your first letter, give her some top memories… maybe trips that you have taken as a family, a special holiday tradition, hobbies and interests, grades in school, etc. Sharing these events makes the birth parent feel a connection with your life.

Also, think about the birth parent’s interests. Maybe the birth family is religious... share stories about taking the child to church camp, his/her involvement in choir or share about when he/she made a salvation decision. Maybe you were told the birth father was athletic. Write about a special sporting event that your child did especially well and brought home a trophy.  Try and make a connection on what little information you do know about the birth family.

Please also include information on the whole family. Yes, we love to hear about the child but we also want to hear about the family he or she is growing up in!

3.  Share how you have spoken about adoption and birth parents to your child. Does he/she ever ask questions about the birth family? And if so, how do you respond to them? Explain how you have incorporated adoption into your conversations and home.

4.   Please ask and incorporate questions into your letter! Most birth parents have such a hard time responding to letters so please ask questions so we have something to respond to. Maybe even questions that the child has asked, “Betty has always wondered if you have other children?” or “We were told that you enjoyed playing the piano. Do you still enjoy playing?”

5.   Ending the letter is the perfect place to share your confirmation of the gift she has entrusted to you, to share how he/she has been loved through the years... and to tell her how you feel about her. Please don't sign the letter "Betty's Mom"...we know you are her mom--we chose you to have that role in the child’s life. To see your signature is like putting your stamp of approval on the words you just wrote!

As an extra bonus, include pictures. Show off those cheesy school pictures, dressy prom shots or photos of the child with braces! Give a description of what is going on in each snapshot. Seeing that the child is ok, healthy and even smiling helps continue the healing process.

I hope these ideas help you get started reconnecting with the birth family!

Birth parents, what else would you recommend to adoptive families? What information would you like to hear?

Have a great day!
~ Janelle

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