We have all sorts of different contact that we manage. We have maintained contact with both Foster Carers and we enjoy seeing them but it does mean fitting visits in and ensuring the relationship is working well. We write contact letters to Katie's Birth Mother; Birth Father and Birth Grandmother every six months. Once Pip is legally adopted we will add an additional letter in to their Birth Mother about him as well. In addition to these two contact types we now also have direct contact with Katie and Pip's middle brother (Kip) whom we see roughly once a month although often bump into him and his Dad in our local shopping centre because they live literally around the corner from us now. It's funny how it all evolves. We knew that Kip lived nearby but contact proved problematic at first because we initially organised it through Children's Services. Thankfully that is resolved and we are organising contact directly between ourselves.
Since first meeting Kip's Dad they have moved closer to us (15 minute walk) and there is also the possibility that Katie and Kip will go to the same infants school. This option has both pros and cons I think. Positively it means Katie and Kip will spend a year together at the same school which I think will be lovely for them both and will help their relationship develop. There is a potential complication for them both when people know that they are brother and sister with one being adopted and the other not and what other people will make of that. I'm not overly bothered by other people but I do want my children to feel that they are in control of information about themselves. The con for me is around security. I am not yet ready to enter the realm of a conversation that goes along these lines "Do you want me to pick Katie up from school today?" from Kip's Dad. He's lovely. I really like him. I enjoy spending time with him and his family and feel 99.9% confident that he would protect our location but he still has contact with their Birth Mother and there is just a little part of me that remains nervous about information being accidentally shared or him looking after the children, which he would be keen to do. The school isn't his catchment school and a little part of me selfishly hopes there aren't places available to out of catchment pupils this year. Being at a different school would prevent picking up from school conversations. There is an obvious sibling link that could be offered but I've not mentioned this whilst I'm so undecided about my feelings.
Contact letters have also been a bit more difficult this time around as well because we didn't receive a contact letter from Katie's Birth Grandmother in October as is usual. She has been writing relatively consistently and I was feeling confident that contact when Katie is older might be a real possibility but suddenly no letter arrived and there is that reminder that consistency is often a reason why family members are unable to have custody of the children. There are several reasons I can think of as to why the letter hasn't arrived however. It might have become lost in the mail. There might be a family event or illness that has impacted on the letter being written. It might be that the letters are too difficult and emotional for her to write. I might have inadvertently upset her in my last letter. It might be that she has decided to stop writing. The Post Adoption Team might have returned the letter to her. All of these reasons unfortunately I am, as yet, unaware of. I have written my 6 monthly letter and asked the question about the missing letter; trying to word the question as gently as I can. I am so aware of how delicate the contact letters are. I strive hard to write letters that give information but do not seek to rub salt into any wounds. I enjoy receiving the letters in reply and have hoped that they would build a good picture of Katie's paternal birth family for when she seeks information.
All of these little things are a constant reminder that our family life differs from
many other people's. It's hard to explain that without sounding churlish or unsupportive of the adoption process. Anyone reading this blog will know that I strive to be neither of those but I think it's important to be honest about my feelings and there are times when I wish there weren't all these peripheral people in our lives that remind me of experiences my children have had and issues that may or may not arise for them in the future. I want to protect them from things that will upset them. As a family we are very accepting and we take all these things in our stride but I also feel a lot of my life in general is full of the needs of other people. Not just the Katie family here at home but in the wider context. Some days I find it hard to work out how to fit all the different needs in. It's a real balancing act and I don't always do it with a song in my heart I will admit.