Without doubt some of the most important and significant people in my children’s lives are their biological mother and father. I’ve previously blogged on them describing them as ghosts that lurk in the shadows of our lives and consciousness.
Over the past few weeks other birth family members have begun to step into the light and it has been a very interesting experience for a multitude of reasons.
For whatever reasons we never got the chance to meet birth mum and dad, we said we were willing but it just didn’t come together. Having been filmed for the BBC we knew that we were known to them and had heard through an intermediary there was no animosity towards us. We heard no more for 15 years until this summer when ‘Matilda’ a sibling, younger than Sarah and older than Gracie and Ginger found us.
After the initial whirlwind of discovery slow and careful contact has been made. Culminating a few days ago when Mrs C sat with our children’s birth aunt, a very emotive and profound experience for them both. She was little more than a child at the time of her niece and nephew’s move into care. Hearing the impact that this move and the events and circumstances had on her and the wider family has been a not unexpected revelation. The stories of the lack of information, the differing version of events, the mess and the pain for the wider birth family and the long term damage the removal caused.
In the midst of it all we hear of our annual letters coming to the family, being passed from member to member bringing news and hope.
Mrs C dutifully wrote the annual letters to Birth Mum and Dad, there was a limited response in the early days but even this dried up after a few years.
However, at the forefront of our minds was the benefit that the letters were for our three. So Mrs C persisted even when there was no response.
Thinking now I can imagine what I would write in their circumstance, how to reply, what to say, what not to say, lives lived in stalled grief and continuing pain. What could they write?
Mrs C would agonise over what to write each year, I would watch TV, if I confess avoiding the task out of laziness and confidence in her wisdom and writing skills.
Mrs C saw it very clearly, we're building for the future, maintaining a positive link, offering hope and trying to ensure that a link could be maintained. We were demonstrating to our children our lack of enmity to their parents through our actions.
As the three grew we would show them the letters and they’d help pick photos we included. It was an opportunity to revisit events, reframe memories and bring context to growing understanding. We would promote empathy and respect , listen to thoughts and feelings.
When Sarah got to 18 and having not had a response in nearly 10 years we stopped.
But Mrs C and the Aunt’s meeting this week justified all the work she’d put in; the chore, the conflicting emotions, the disheartening lack of reply. We know now that the letters found their audience and forged a delicate and essential link. We now that they were eagerly awaited and passed from hand to hand bringing news of children lost.
We aware that we are at the beginning of a new chapter and there have been lots of tears. But we are confident that there is no rush our children have their lives to restore and establish relationships with their first family.
I am grateful as I know that for some children and families the hope of contact is incomprehensible, impractical and dangerous.
For us we always knew that this day would come. Thankfully we had already begun to build bridges.