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Contact with birth families

When a child is adopted, the Court may mandate contact between the child and their birth family. We’re committed to making sure that all our adopted children and adoptive families are fully supported through it.

The most common form of contact between your adopted child and their birth family is through letters, via email. They are sent indirectly, via our service so that you do not exchange contact information. This is known as Letterbox Contact. These letters or emails are sent at pre-arranged times.

Letterbox Contact

The arrangements are made between the adults on behalf of children, although the children can sometimes contribute, for example by including a drawing or hand print or by writing something when they are older, if they wish to do so. We recommend that the letters are shared with the child/ren when they are old enough to understand it and when appropriate to do so.

Letterbox contact can be very positive and helpful to all parties in adoption. It may
help the adopted child:

  • Retain links with birth parents or significant family members.
  • Hear about any news from their birth family and gain further understanding of their past.
  • Feel more confident by boosting self-esteem and reducing any feelings of loss and rejection.

Overview of the Process:

  • Agreement Through Court: The arrangement is established through the court process, ensuring that all parties agree to the terms of the letterbox contact.
  • Confidentiality and Safety: Letters are exchanged via Adopt Birmingham, ensuring addresses and phone numbers are not shared directly between the parties. This setup maintains the confidentiality and safety of all involved.
  • Moderation: The letters are checked by our letterbox administrators to ensure they comply with the agreed-upon guidelines for each child. This moderation helps maintain the appropriateness and suitability of the content.
  • Child Involvement: While the primary communication is between adults, children can contribute to the letters through drawings, handprints, or writings when they are capable and willing. These contributions are shared with the child(ren) when they are old enough to understand and when deemed appropriate.


Staying in contact with brothers and sisters

Many adopted children have sisters and brothers living with a different adoptive or foster families.

Adopted children have told us about their distress at losing contact with their siblings. To help prevent this we encourage adoptive parents to maintain their child’s relationship with their brothers and sisters where appropriate.

Ways to keep in touch include:

  • Writing letters or emails
  • Carefully arranged visits, where appropriate (we will support you to prepare for this)


You will have training and support to help you write these letters and to ensure that there is no risk to your child. For example, if the Court asks you to include a photograph of your child once a year, we will advise you not to take the photo in school uniform or with anything that identifies them.

You can learn more about Letterbox Contact through our Adopter Community. Log in as a user to read more information and advice on Letterbox contact.

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