Letterbox Service

The letterbox service is an arrangement where adoptive parents and birth families agree to keep in touch by exchanging news once or twice a year. This arrangement allows information to be exchanged between a child’s adoptive family and members of their birth family.

Bristol Letterbox (Bristol and North Somerset):

Letterbox Team (B Bond)

Adoption West

PO Box 3399

Bristol

BS1 9NE

bristol@adoptionwest.co.uk

Trowbridge Letterbox (Wiltshire and BANES)

Trowbridge Letterbox,

County Hall,

Bythesea Road,

Trowbridge,

BA14 8JN

trowbridge@adoptionwest.co.uk

Gloucester Letterbox (Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire)

Gloucester Hub

Letterbox

PO Box 241

Gloucester Central

GL1 2YQ

gloucester@adoptionwest.co.uk

Two girls in capes, back view

Research has shown that most adopted children benefit from having information about their birth family as they grow up. It can help children to develop a sense of their identity, reassure them about the wellbeing of their birth family and let them know that they have not been forgotten.

Adoptive families benefit from knowing more about their child’s birth family origins, family traits, health issues and medical history. They often find that the exchanges of information with birth relatives helps them to talk more openly with their children about their adoption.

Many of our adopted children have sisters and brothers living with a different adoptive or foster family. Losing contact with their siblings, can cause children distress. It is important that adopted children can continue to keep a relationship with their siblings where appropriate, in many cases this is through Letterbox contact.

Receiving these letters lets birth families know about their child’s progress and development and offers reassurance about the child’s wellbeing.

Letterbox arrangements are usually drawn up before the child goes to live with their adoptive family. These arrangements set out exactly what will be exchanged and when the exchanges will take place. The best interest of the child will always come first when the nature of the contact is being decided.

Once an agreement is in place, a confirmation letter is sent to both families. Reminder letters will be sent out a few weeks before news is due to be exchanged. If a letter from the birth family doesn’t arrive in the due month, we will send a reminder letter.

Letterbox contact is made between the adults on behalf of the child(ren). The child(ren) can contribute, for example by including a drawing, handprint or by writing something when they are older, but only if they want to.

Only items which can be easily posted can be exchanged through the letterbox service. Your agreement may include:

  • letters
  • photographs
  • cards
  • drawings

Exactly what can be sent, when and how often will be agreed before letterbox begins.

Adoption West will photocopy all letters and cards so there is a complete record on the child’s letterbox file in case anything is lost in the future.

Our letterbox coordinators can offer advice and ideas to help you write your letter.

The news and information that birth relatives receive is for the recipient only and they are responsible for its safekeeping. It should not under any circumstances be posted on the internet, on sites like Facebook, for example.

Addresses and telephone numbers are not shared between birth parents and the adoptive parents. All Letters are checked, here at Adoption West, to ensure they are suitable and that the content complies with the agreed arrangement for each child.

Tracing birth relatives is a big decision to make, there are many things adopted adults may wish to consider. familyconnect.org.uk is a specialist website which  helps adults who have been adopted or in care find answers to questions about their origins, this is a helpful place to begin if you are considering tracing birth relatives. We would recommend using an ‘Intermediary Service’ which provides assistance in contacting a relative of an adopted adult and vice versa, if this is a route you decide to pursue.

We do not provide an ‘Intermediary Service’ but, through our Birth Links service, we are able to offer a one-hour consultation, which will include a discussion around the nature and availability of intermediary services, and the impact of an approach/contact for all involved

Tracing birth relatives- a practical guide http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk/

The adoptive parents of the child/ren will have to consider:

  • the age of the child – if they are too young to read, the letter may be put away to be read when they are older or they may think it would be better to share the news in conversation with the child
  • how the child will receive the news – if it is felt that hearing news of birth relatives will be distressing or unsettling, the adopters may choose to save a letter until the child is more settled.

It is very rare for adoptive parents to pull out of an agreement, and we will always try to discuss any changes with them.

Sometimes we lose touch with birth relatives because they:

  • forget to tell us they have moved
  • don’t claim their correspondence
  • choose to withdraw because contact is too painful for them.

We would encourage the adopters to continue to write in with their news which we will keep on file for the future and if a birth relative gets in touch with us again, we will have up-to-date news to send on. They may, however, choose to stop writing and contact between the families may be lost.

Each of our three hub offices as a dedicated worker for letterbox contact, they are available if you have anything you would like to discuss.

 

Bristol Letterbox (Bristol and North Somerset):

Letterbox Team (B Bond)

Adoption West

PO Box 3399

Bristol

BS1 9NE

bristol@adoptionwest.co.uk

 

Trowbridge Letterbox (Wiltshire and BANES)

Adoption West,

Trowbridge Letterbox,

County Hall,

Bythesea Road,

Trowbridge,

BA14 8JN

trowbridge@adoptionwest.co.uk

 

Gloucester Letterbox (Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire)

Gloucester Hub

Letterbox

PO Box 241

Gloucester Central

GL1 2YQ

gloucester@adoptionwest.co.uk