Ask AF: What to Say in a Letter to Birth Parents

When we write to our child's birth parents, should we include family challenges, or only successes? The AF expert explains.

Q: I send letters with pictures to my children’s birth parents via our adoption agencies. Their birth parents haven’t asked to see the letters yet, but we continue to hope that they will. It’s easy to write about my children’s successes, but how much do I say about our parenting challenges, family therapy, or my successful struggle with cancer? I want my letters to be truthful; I don’t want them to sound like boastful Christmas letters either. What do birth parents want to know in the letters I write—especially those who aren’t closely in touch?

A: I believe that honesty, in any relationship, is the best policy. You are trying to build a relationship with your children’s birth parents. Assume that one day you will meet.
Of course, you need not bare all either. In a semi-open adoption, it is important to share the events and challenges that affect the life of the adopted child. Write about how the family is facing these challenges and how your child is coping. Ups and downs are a part of everyone’s life. Few birth parents expect their child’s life to be perfect. What will reassure them is knowing that challenges are being handled in a healthy way. When, or if, there is contact, your letters will provide a strong foundation for a relationship.