So far we’ve heard how prospective parents Caroline and Roger came to adopt and the process of doing so with PACT (Parents And Children Together), the Diocesan adoption agency. Then their son Jon told us what the transition to a new home was like for him. Now Roger relates the emotions and logistics of the first contact with Jon’s birth mother …
“Everyone agreed - that’s Jon’s birth mother, her social worker, the PACT team and us, that we should leave it a year before organising contact for Jon with his birth family. We started off with a ‘letterbox drop’ - a kind of PO Box service organised through the agencies representing both families, in which Jon updated his birth mother on his news and we suggested a meeting date a long time hence. She responded and we set about finding neutral ‘outing’ territory some way away from where we live and getting everyone together - not just us, her and her parents (Jon’s grandparents) but a social worker to stand by all of us, too.
“Before all that, though, we met Jon’s birth mother at the Social Services offices without Jon there. As it happened, it was all very cheerful and made much easier by having a professional standing by, as it were, who although completely unobtrusive, nevertheless kept an ear on the meeting so that we couldn’t say anything out of turn during the two hours we were together. For instance, I came very close to revealing where we live”, says Roger, “but the social worker recognised I was on the verge before I did, and gently steered the conversation onto a new topic! That’s the great benefit of having a constant social worker on your case from day one, who comes to know you really well.
“Jon had a lot of ‘why’ questions when he came to live with us and it was really only after the first meeting with his birth mother that they began to subside. We have always made a big point of talking through the contact with him each time, and I’d say that he has stopped feeling responsible for her now and that meeting once a year as we do is just like any other trip out. In between times we keep up the letterbox drop twice a year.
“It doesn’t get any easier for Caroline and me”, Roger continues, “but we just remind ourselves that it’s healthy for Jon to acknowledge his background and that we are in the driving seat about dictating the length of the meeting and where it should be held. Also, there’s no reason why the contacts should ever turn confrontational, because though we inevitably talk about ‘her side’ and ‘our side’, everyone there has got only one priority - to do the right thing by Jon.”
This article was first published in The Door in December 2005, and we are indebted to the Editor for permission to publish.
PACT can be contacted on 0800 731 1845.