So…letterbox. We have a letterbox agreement (sort of) with Mini’s birth parents. When Mini was placed with us, the NC and I signed an informal agreement – a generic document drawn up by social services, in which we filled in the blanks with specifics that we agreed too i.e frequency, whether we are happy for gifts to be sent to Mini, if we want to know about births/marriages/deaths, how letters should be signed i.e Mummy X or just X.
We regularly ask for social services to support Mini’s birth parents in replying. Birth Dad feels it is too hard, and so we’ve never heard from him.
However, last year we received a call from Social Services, informing us that Birth Mum had written. We were asked if we wanted the letter sent to us, or kept on file. Of course we jumped at the chance to receive more information about her, and something for Mini to have in the future.
Anyway, I was a bit disappointed with her ‘letter’. It was addressed to Mini, even though all our letters are from Stix and the NC, and it wasn’t really a letter. It wasn’t conversational (which is how I try to write to her), it was just a list of acknowledgments – ‘Oh, you like sausage and mash, me too’ and ‘I’m pleased blue is your favourite colour, it’s mine too’. But, it’s communication, and it’s been filed away for the future.
Truth be told, the longer Mini is part of our family, the more I resent letterbox. He’s mine, why should I share information about MY son with a virtual stranger? But…I do it because it will help keeps those lines of communication open to Mini in the future. And also deep down, I truly hope she’ll write back, because I’m interested in the life of the person who gave my son life.
Recently, I wrote our latest letter. I try to write balanced letters about all aspects of Mini's life. I don’t just give them the good stuff, I tell them about the tough times too, and I’d explained that Mini had a seizure and it was being investigated. I asked if there was any family history we should be aware of. When I emailed it in, I asked (again) for support to be given to Birth Mum, as we really hoped for a reply. Social Services took 6 weeks to inform me that support had been offered but declined.
Out of the blue this week, we received a letter from Birth Mum. No warning phonecall this time and despite being grateful for the letter, I’m a bit cross with Social Services for not warning us of it’s imminent arrival. Given that we’re going through some pretty challenging stuff at the moment, I just wasn’t at all prepared for opening the post to find this letter.
This letter was much more chatty than before, disclosing a bit more information and sharing some major news. But importantly, Birth Mum had read my letter to her, and had responded to the questions I’d asked her. Yippee, I now have something to tell the neurologist. It might be irrelevant, but it’s something.
I’ve been having doubts recently about whether to continue, and I’d shared that with Letterbox, explaining to them about my frustrations. Perhaps the fear that I’ll stop giving her little titbits about her son is what’s driven her to write again, or perhaps she has found the courage and strength to overlook the fact that I’m looking after ‘her’ son. Perhaps she's just not been in the right place to write before. Whatever the reason, I’m so pleased she managed it, as this has given me the reminder that I needed – Letterbox is important. And I WILL carry on.