Story-Telling, Letter-Writing

When you adopt a child, there's a lot said about 'life story work' which is, basically, an economical term for describing the lifelong process of helping an adopted child understand their past and their present, and why things have happened as they have.



OB has never really been interested in his life story. I feel strangely guilty about that, as if it's somehow a failure on my part to make the whole life story thing interesting and worthwhile. The prevailing view seems to be that life story is good, life story is essential. It's really frowned upon to give less than one's best to life story.

But here, life story is a non-starter. He's seen photos, he knows people's names, we've had a few brief conversations - just enough so that he has a sense of the main events - but other than that, unless I prompted it (and occasionally I do), it wouldn't come up.

He's not interested in letterbox either. He knows I write to his birth family, but he doesn't usually want to talk about it. Except for this year. This year, I mentioned that I was about to write, and asked him, as usual, if there was anything he wanted to say. He usually just says no. This year he said, "Don't write anything at all."

Awkward.

I signed a letter box agreement, not him. I agreed to write annually to update his birth family. At the same time, I don't feel as though I can just ignore his wishes. It may be me who signed the agreement, and me who writes the letters, but it's his life I'm writing about. I've always felt a tension in that, and this year we'll have to resolve that tension head on, somehow.

As it happens, the letterbox co-ordinator called me this week. I had another twinge of guilt, assuming she was chasing up this year's letters, which I always seem to leave until the last minute, and more so this year, considering OB's pronouncement. But no, she was contacting me to see if I would sign a letter box agreement with OB's siblings' adopters, and if I'd be prepared to speak to them about a more informal arrangement, or be open to the possibility of our two families meeting up.

I absolutely would. Not sure if OB will be so keen though.

He knows about his siblings, and he knew that they had been removed, and were being adopted. This evening I had a conversation, mainly with the back of his head, where I explained where things were up to, and that I was going to be in contact with his siblings' adoptive parents. I said he didn't need to be involved or decide anything right now, but there was the option of meeting them in the future if he wanted to do that.

He said, "That's never going to happen. What was the result in the Chelsea Liverpool match?"

Interestingly, during the phone call with the letterbox co-ordinator, I learned for the first time that OB's birth mum never actually signed a letterbox agreement all those years ago. So she's definitely never seen any of the letters I've written and definitely won't be replying.

The messy reality is so different from the soft-focus ideal.

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