Each child placed for adoption will have a ‘contact agreement’. This agreement sets out the methods in which a child will have contact with their birth parents / family, and this is agreed before placement.

The level of contact will vary depending on safeguarding and can take the form of letterbox contact, direct contact, or both.

The agreement usually includes birth parents and siblings and may also included extended family members such as grandparents, uncles, and aunts etc. It may also include foster carers.

0-18 years old

During a child’s early years and childhood their adoptive family will be responsible for meeting the agreed contact.

The agreement is agreed before the placement of a child but may extend over the subsequent years if, for example, another sibling were to be born.

A child may also express their desire for a change in contact as they grow and progress and this will be explored on an individual basis between the child, families, and our adoption support team.

18+ years old

Once a person who is adopted reaches the age of eighteen years old, they can decide if they wish to engage in ongoing contact.

We can advise the person in detail to meet their individual desires. Adults who were adopted can request direct contact or veto contact with birth parents / family.


Letterbox contact

Letterbox contact is the most common form of contact between adopted children and birth family.

  • Adopted children benefit from having information about their birth family as they grow up. It can help children to develop a sense of identity, reassure them about the wellbeing of their birth family and let them know that they haven’t been forgotten
  • Birth families receiving these letters know about their child’s progress and development and offers reassurance about the child’s wellbeing
  • Adoptive families benefit from knowing more about their child’s birth family origins, family traits, health issues and medical history. They often find that the exchanges of information with birth relatives helps them to talk more openly with their children about their adoption in greater depth
  • Previous foster carers usually love to hear how a child is progressing since leaving their care

The standard letterbox contact for all children is one letter per year which can be accessed by named persons such as birth parents, grandparents, extended family, siblings living in kinship, foster placements or independently and foster carers. However, it can be recommended that a child has different levels of contact with different people in their birth family through letterbox depending on safeguarding requirements.

When children are young, they may draw a picture that can be included in a letter you write, as they get older, they may start to ask some basic questions which can be included in the letter, and then as they grow up, they may want to share different information and ask more informed questions.

When a child is first placed for adoption, we will also ask adoptive parents to write a ‘settling in’ letter.

  • The practicalities

    Our letterbox contact is organised in-house. Our Letterbox Coordinator is the main point of contact for all enquiries from birth family and adoptive families.

    Our Letterbox Coordinator will give advice and support to both families about what is safe and appropriate to share. Any information submitted for the other family will be checked before forwarding to make sure that there is no identifiable information.

    We also have a Birth Family Advisor who works directly with birth family to support birth family through the process of adoption and with ongoing contact.  

    There is an understanding that letterbox contact may change over time, if, for example, a new sibling was born. The new sibling may be able to live with birth parents or be placed in kinship care, foster care or in another adoptive placement and suitable contact arrangements will be organised between you, our team and the other people involved for the new child depending on the individual situation.

    Every letter that is written is sent to our Letterbox Co-ordinator and a record of all interactions and engagement from birth and adoptive family is kept on the child’s file. A person who is adopted can access all details contained on their file from 18+ years old.

    We require birth relatives and adoptive families update us if they move to a new house or change their contact details such as email or phone number.


If you would like to inform us of a change of details, request support or submit a letter please email:

*Please note the letterbox service is operated on Mondays and Tuesdays. Enquiries will be answered within 10 working days.

Direct Contact

We encourage direct contact with birth family where it is safe and positive for the child’s development and understanding. Direct contact allows children to explore their identity with precautions in place.

  • Siblings

    As children develop, they often have natural curiosity about their siblings and may seek further information.

    Where safe and appropriate to do so we encourage adopters to engage in direct contact with their children’s siblings. Direct contact may change over time if, for example, a new sibling was born.

  • Birth parents and extended family

    Birth family members often play a vital role in loving and meeting the needs of a child even if it is decided that in the longer term the child requires an adoptive family.

    In some circumstances we may ask that a child has direct contact with another family member, this may be a birth parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle etc.

  • Foster parents

    It’s important for a child to know that they were loved and cared for during foster care and that they meant a lot to the foster parent(s).

    As they grow up, they will likely have a natural curiosity about who cared for them during their early years. Therefore, we encourage all adopters to stay in contact with their child’s foster carers.


For more information or support regarding direct contact please email: 

Birth Family Advisor:

We have a designated Birth Family Advisor to support birth family members who are part of a child’s contact arrangement. The purpose of this role is to provide birth family members access to one-to-one support (by email, phone, or face to face); to write their letterbox letter(s) and discuss or clarify the contact arrangement in place.

If you wish to access this support or have questions about your existing contact arrangement, please contact our office: 0800 023 4064 and request a referral via our duty social worker. Alternatively, you can request a call back for support by emailing:

Resources about contact