About a month ago I was shocked to received a phone call out of the blue from a student social worker who was . . . wait for it . . . working on our LLL! Yes! The Later Life Letter that I had resigned myself to never seeing was actually being prepared.
For those unfamiliar with the complex machinations of the UK adoption scene, the Later Life Letter is one of two documents that are (or should be) prepared for children when they are adopted to help them understand their past and their present, and how those two are connected together. First there is the Life Story Book which is aimed at younger children and gives some very basic information about birth family, the circumstances of their coming into care, their foster placements and their move to their forever family, along with lots (hopefully) of photographs and other snippets. Our Life Story Book was quite a disappointment to be honest, and I'm fairly sure I will be making a new one.
The Later Life Letter is a fuller, more detailed account of the circumstances surrounding a child's birth family and the events surrounding their removal and subsequent adoption. It is designed for a child to read themselves when they are older. Ours is many pages long, and it is really good. Really good. I was amazed, actually.
Obviously I won't be going into the detail that it contains, but suffice it to say that some bright spark thought to bring in OB's birth grandma (paternal) to help to fill in the massive gaps in our knowledge about his birth dad. I met this grandma several times, and liked her. I've warmed to her even more now that I can see the trouble she's gone to to make sure that OB has an image of his birth dad that goes beyond the rather depressing one-dimensional outline we had before.
In particular, in these pages I see the golden nugget of information I was always looking for but nobody had actually confirmed to me. OB's birth dad did see him, and hold him. It was only once, but it was something, and I think it will mean something to OB in the future to know that, in spite of his total lack of engagement with every single part of the process, there was a moment when he cared enough about his son to visit him and cuddle him. If nothing else, it will take away the wondering and the questions on that score anyway.
So, yes, I've read it a couple of times now, soaking up the information, and then I've put it away in his folder until some future opportunity presents itself. Now all I have to do is remember where I've put the folder!
And I hope that student social worker gets a fantastic appraisal at the end of this placement because we definitely appreciate the work she's done for us!