Letterbox contact: an example letter for birth parents

Since I wrote my post Letterbox contact: a template letter, which helps adoptive parents write contact letters to birth family members, I’ve heard from several birth parents who’ve asked if I can write something similar for them. I was keen to help out by providing their own contact letter template to use when writing to a child who has been adopted, but wanted to produce it in partnership with a birth parent who could share their perspective. I wrote this example letter (below) with Zoe, a birth mum who contacted me via my Facebook page.

Thank you Zoe, it was lovely to connect with you. I’ve changed names and some other details to keep Zoe and her daughter’s identities private.

Writing to your child who has been adopted

Writing to your child can be difficult for lots of reasons. It can be really hard to know what to say, to know what’s allowed, and to manage the emotions that come up when you think about sending a letter. Using a template like this can make it easier because it gives you ideas and a framework to use for what you want to say.

Questions can be helpful

Start by asking questions. What are the things you’d like to know about him/her? Bear in mind that you probably can’t ask about places. Topics like how he/she’s growing and what foods he/she likes, what words he/she’s learned and games he/she plays are all fine.

What are his/her favourite TV programmes? Does he/she go to the park? What does he/she like to do there? Does he/she have any pets? What did he/she do at Christmas, for his/her birthday, or in the summer holidays? What sort of things does he/she do during the week and at the weekend?

If you have already had a letter from your child or his/her adoptive parents, you could write about the things they mentioned. Have they asked you any questions? Your answers could be really helpful for your child, so try to answer them if you can.

About you

Then you could think about what you’d like him/her to know about you as he/she gets older. Do you live on your own, with a partner, with family or pets? What do you like to do? Favourite films, TV shows, music, books? Your favourite memories of him/her?

Complicated topics

If you have specific questions about things you want to write about, it’s usually a good idea to ask your social worker or letterbox co-ordinator. These could include mentioning particular family members or sharing sensitive information. The rules are different for each family depending on what they think is going to be most helpful for the children.

Dos and dont’s


  • use surnames or specific locations unless you are sure this is OK,
  • make threats,
  • or say that you expect the child to return to live with you in the future.

These things may mean your letter is not passed on to your child or that you are asked to write it again.

[EDIT: Some adoptive parents have let me know that their letterbox contact arrangements say that birth parents must write to the adoptive parents, not directly to the child. I’ve added a second template (below) for this situation. If you’re not sure what the rules are in your case, check with your social worker or letterbox co-ordinator.]


  • let them know they are loved and remembered,
  • that you are proud of them,
  • that you enjoy hearing from them.

This type of letter is likely to be treasured.

Letterbox contact: an example letter for birth parents

Dear Lily

How are you? I hope you’re really well and that you had a lovely Christmas. What did you do at Christmas? Was it quiet or did you see lots of people? I spent Christmas with my boyfriend, James. We went for a walk on the beach, watched TV, and played games. My favourite parts of Christmas were going to the cinema to see the new Star Wars film and eating mince pies. I also thought about you a lot and wondered what you were doing. Did you have fun?

I know you are growing really fast and I expect you are learning lots of new words. What other clever things can you do now?

I live in a flat near the sea with James and my cat Charlie. During the week I work in a bakery, and at the weekends I like going to the cinema, watching Holby City, and going out with my friends. I like Chinese food. What is your favourite food at the moment?

Do you like going to the park? I wonder what you like doing there. What about at home? What do you watch on TV? Which programme is your favourite?

I remember when we went to the beach together.  You jumped in the waves and we made a sandcastle. I have really happy memories of that day.

I look forward to hearing how you’re doing.

Love from

Mummy Zoe*


*It’s a good idea to check with your social worker or letterbox co-ordinator the name that you and the adoptive parents agree if you’re not sure. It’s not usually appropriate to sign yourself as just ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’, because that can be confusing for the child. We call our daughters’ birth parents Mummy (first name) and Daddy (first name), as in this example.

You can download and edit this contact letter for birth parents (MS Word file). There’s also a version that’s addressed to the adoptive parents (MS Word file). Use whichever is appropriate for your situation.

I’d love to hear your feedback – has it been useful? Are there other questions you’d like me to address, or other topics I should include? Please let me know in the comments.



  1. Laura Garrett
    23 June 2018 / 10:10 pm

    Hi my names Laura and I have to write to my children and when I do I just have to put tummy mummy or Laura how rude is that

    • 26 July 2018 / 5:45 pm

      Hi Laura, I can see how much that can hurt. I’m sorry. I’m assuming your children are still quite young, and this helps them understand how all the parents in their lives fit into their story. That probably doesn’t make it much easier for you, but as they get older and their understanding grows it may change a little and there could be a name you are all comfortable with. Thanks for commenting and I hope letterbox gets easier for you. x

  2. Becky
    21 June 2019 / 4:58 pm

    Hi Laura. My boy has been adopted by a gay couple (mm). I’m struggling on what to write and how to sign it. The LA are not much help

    • Becky
      21 June 2019 / 4:59 pm


  3. 2 July 2019 / 11:28 pm

    Hi there my names lisa, my children got adopted over 15 years ago now they’ve come back now. And the adoption parents wont let then read the letters or see photos I also sent. So not the children think o didn’t care enough for them. What can I do now to get hold of all the letters I sent thank you regards lisa

    • 26 November 2019 / 9:03 am

      Try contacting the person in charge of letterbox contact at the local authority – they may have kept copies.

  4. rebecca
    25 November 2019 / 5:37 pm

    im just about to write my first letterbox contact letter this february. i had no clue where to start. i have another child in my care and been told not to mention him which i’ll find hard but i get it. also been told its better to say from rebecca rather than from mum which breaks my heart but again i get it. your template has helped me, thankyou.

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