35. When we contact your relatives

person looking at stars first contact letters

Our First Contact Letters.

After months of effort the time will eventually come when we can move ahead with the first contact letter to your birth relative. We will have undertaken our due diligence actions and conformed to standards and regulations expected in an intermediary search. We are now ready to go, and our first letter will be posted (unless we have informed you of another method of contact).

We know that this can be a nerve-wracking time for our clients and so we want you to have more information about this process. This information may also be interesting to the subjects of our searches so that you know the efforts we take to contact you. We never show our contact letters to our clients. This is because we had one occasion when they were copied inappropriately, and we cannot let this happen. However, the information below gives a very clear idea about what this letter will look like.

Before we start it helps to know the detail in these letters as follows:

  1. We let the subject know that we are Ofsted registered and we encourage them to check our registration on the Ofsted Reports website by going to Ofsted Reports and looking up our unique reference number which is URL 2617067. We feel it is essential that people can be confident from the word go that this is not a scam and that we are not out to gain anything other than make them aware of possible contact.
  2. We also encourage subjects to take a good look at our website: Joanna North Adoption.
  3. We have studied the first contact letter over ten years and thousands of letters and made many calibrations and adjustments to be sure that the tone of the letter is just right. We have also asked for feedback from subjects once they are in touch with us and we have been told that they feel the letter sent to them was appropriate and helpful.
  4. The tone of the letter is non-threatening and supportive helping the subject to be aware of options and choices. There is no coercion intended or involved in this process.
  5. We have studied carefully how to get the best response to our initial contact letters and found ways to increase this response rate. The current response rate is just over 90 per cent which is very high. This of course does not mean the person responds and says they would like to be in touch. They may respond and say they don’t wish to see you. In our view whatever the response it is welcome as we will have accurate information to pass to you.
  6. This letter will not give your name or any specifics about your case. This is important because we can never be sure who may see the letter or may be aware of this adoption. It may be detrimental to give too much information at this stage. However, we will let the subject know that the matter is related to adoption.
  7. We do not put your Personal Statement (which you will have prepared) in with this letter. This is because communication from you may not be wanted or welcome. If this is the case, it will cause offence and possible anxiety. We only share your personal statements once we are sure that the subject agrees to receive this.
  8. Our envelopes are handwritten on good quality envelopes and paper. This helps to distinguish them from junk mail etc.
  9. The letter contains information about Adoption Law and why you can trace your relative.
  10. It also gives information about the right to access counselling support for adults affected through adoption.
  11. The subject is given three ways to respond: to call us or to email us or send a letter. When sending a second letter we also enclose a stamped addressed envelope with a brief reply card for ease of communication,
  12. The letter is warm in tone, but it is also professional.
  13. We do not overwhelm the subject with lots of personal information about you as this would not be appropriate at this stage.
  14.  We are always confident of the location of your subject before we send out the letters. This will be established by our trace expert, and we will cross check and verify the information.

First Letter.

The letter goes out as mentioned above.

Be assured we will contact you as soon as we hear anything.

We wait for 28 days.

Second Letter.

We will send this out recorded delivery and this will be signed for so that we know the subject has received the letter. We include a reply card which gives options to tick the most relevant response to their situation and a stamped addressed envelope so this can be easily returned to us.

We explain this is our second letter and we explain that we hope to hear from them but will not harass them and have no wish to make them feel uncomfortable. We explain we will send out a third letter and that this letter will mark the closure of our case.

Third Letter.

This letter explains that we will have to assume that they have no wish to be in touch and we will close the case. We explain that they can call us at any time and that we will be open to review the situation. We offer counselling and explain that this is free of charge if required or needed.

How you might feel during this process and how to take care of yourself.

Our clients report varying responses at the point of sending out the first letter. For some they are sanguine with reasonable expectations and are open to any kind of response. For others this can be a nerve-wracking time with lots of hopes and expectations and they start to count the hours up until the 28 days are over. However, we really would advise you not to do this and advise that you get on with your life and try to distract yourself if you can. There is nothing that can be done that can hurry this along and we really cannot and must not rush the subject of the search into feeling they must make a response. In our experience people respond quickly or they take weeks to respond depending on their life and circumstances. Either way we must maintain an open and receptive state of mind and we are most grateful for any response that we do get. At this time don’t feel that you must jump ahead and make contact yourself. We strongly advise you not to interrupt the chain of events that have been put in place. So much so that we have specially written a leaflet about the consequences of doing this.(see leaflet 20).

In our experience a direct interruption of this thoughtful and respectful process may jeopardize a successful outcome and only serves to confuse the subject of the search and unsettle them. See our leaflet number 20.

Good Advice to get you through.

Talk with your Buddy or trusted friend about your hopes and thoughts.

Check in with us on the state of progress if you are anxious.

Talk with us and ask to speak to our counsellor for advice.

Keep a diary of the process and your thoughts and feelings to manage anxiety.

Don’t engage in self-destructive activities to make the time pass ie drink, drugs etc.

Do engage in positive self-care activities such as exercise, socialising, mindfulness etc.

Lose yourself in a great novel or hobby or something of your choice.

Read our advice leaflets.

Remind yourself that we cannot control the outcome. Hope for the best but be prepared for any disappointment or an outcome that is different to that which you imagined.

Hold in mind that this is about supporting the subject – they will have been surprised by our contact – they will need time and we will not rush them.

Dr. Joanna North

Consultant Psychotherapist (Adoption)

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

person looking at stars first contact letters