Erin's story

Louise and her adoptive mum Erin share their personal experiences of contact with Louise’s birth dad.

Home for Good is passionate about care-experienced children and young people being supported to better understand and make sense of their life story and feel secure in their identity. Where possible and appropriate, given every child’s unique experiences, contact with birth family can be deeply beneficial for adopted children. We would always recommend that any contact beyond existing arrangements is planned with social workers and other professionals so that everyone involved has the support they need, including the birth family member. We are so grateful to Louise* and her adoptive mum Erin* for sharing their personal experiences of contact with Louise’s birth dad with us.

I always knew that Louise would one day want to meet her birth family. I expected it. From the beginning, we have been very open with her about her adoption and the circumstances behind it. I had thought that this would all happen when she was nearing adulthood, but when she was 11 she started to ask questions about the possibility of building a relationship with her birth father.

There is plenty of research that would suggest that in some cases, having an open relationship with the birth family can be beneficial for the child, so I started to look into how we might be able to make this happen in the best and safest way for everyone. We found a DDP therapist – a special type of family-based psychotherapist that supports fostered or adopted children – funded through the Adoption Support Fund. We explored together how it might feel for my daughter to actually meet her birth family.

We had moved house since Louise joined our family, so it was my current local adoption services that got in touch with those who had journeyed with us before, and together they paved the way for us to meet with Louise’s birth father. My husband and I had initially imagined that it would be just me, Louise and the social worker who met him. But in one of our therapy sessions, Louise stated how important it was for her to have her ‘real dad’ at the meeting too.

We agreed to meet at a bowling alley. A social worker met us there and we waited for her birth father to arrive. We were all terrified. Then Andy* walked in.

It was awkward at first. Andy came bearing a large football and a small jewellery bag. We were all introduced and we shook hands. All the emotion that had been building up in Louise for such a long time just fell out of her, and she cried. As I put my arm around her, I could see the concern in Andy’s face. I motioned for him to come and sit with us. He tentatively put his arm around her as well, and it was clear he was emotional as well. The tension began to break, and we began to feel a little more relaxed.

We bowled and laughed and bowled some more. There were awkward times, and a lot of trips to the ladies to de-brief, but it was a really magical day. I had arranged with the bowling venue to reserve a table in the cafe area so that if all was going well, we could stay for food and drinks. It did go well, and Louise wanted to stay, so we did.

She shared her life story book with Andy and they went through the pages together. Seeing the journey Louise had been on, he expressed his disappointment at how things had been in the beginning. It was obvious how much he loved our daughter and how proud he was of the young lady she had become. Louise had told us she wanted to meet her birth dad to fill a gap in her own life, but just by wanting to meet him, my daughter healed a broken part of Andy. She is secure in who she is within our family, and she showed him that she didn’t hold the past against him.

At the end of our time with Andy, we gave him an email address I had set up for the purpose of staying in touch. Since then, we have emailed each other several times and we hope to meet up again in the Spring. Meeting her birth father does not undermine our relationship with Louise as her parents. In fact, it has strengthened it. Louise knows that we will always do what is best for her.

Friends of mine have said that they think my husband and I were brave to do this. But I think Louise and Andy were the brave ones.

*names have been changed for anonymity

Author:
Erin - an adoptive parent


Date published:
July 2022


Tags:
Stories


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