Ask AF: Openness in Foster Adoption

Openness in foster adoption can be challenging for children and adoptive parents alike, especially if the child's safety was compromised in the past.

Q: We are the pre-adoptive family of a 10-year-old girl who was removed from her birth family for safety reasons. She remembers the good times as well as the bad, though, and told us that she would like to send a note to her birth parents. What should we do?


Members of respond:

“I think sending the note via her social worker or sending it with the return address of a P.O. box might not be a bad idea. This would allow you to moderate the contact and let her feel like she’s been heard. Also, keep in mind that, when she is older and able to handle whatever might arise, she may want to reopen contact.”

“We allowed our children adopted from foster care to correspond with birth relatives as long as we were part of the conversation. We encouraged the birth family to say supportive things, like ‘I am so proud of you for doing well in school,’ rather than unproductive things like, ‘I miss you so much every day!’”

“My seven-year-old talked nonstop about her birth mother and just idolized her. With my permission, she wrote her a short letter and drew a picture. Her birth mother’s response was surprisingly appropriate, and I invited her to write again, but she hasn’t yet. For my daughter, just writing that letter was therapeutic; she hasn’t done the hero-worship thing nearly as much since. I asked her if she wants to write again, and she said no. I would let your daughter write, and tell her you’ll read the note before you send it. It might end up being really good for her and would give you some insight into how she’s processing the loss of her birth family. I would also prepare her for the possibility that she may not hear back, just in case.”


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