In the fall I sat on an adoption panel with the birth mother of a 21-year-old. Having the opportunity to talk with her and hear what she shared with the panel reminded me that I cannot give up in my efforts with the birth families of our children. She reminded us that whether we are hearing from those birth parents or not, they have never, ever forgotten about their children, and that is what we need to communicate to our kids.

Birth family relationships in foster-adopt are complicated. I know there are many former foster kids who cannot have contact with any part of their birth families. In our case, their birth-mother was not the person who harmed them, although it was her poor judgement– each time– that put them in harm’s way. Over the course of the case involving these three kids, she did begin to come to terms with her responsibility in the matter. That said, we will never leave the kids alone with her.

We had not heard from her in over a year. Not a text, a note, a phone call– nothing. I had sent pictures a few times with a brief note, but after sitting on the panel, I remembered how truly important this relationship is. I came home and wrote letters to both the surviving mothers of our kids and sent a handful of pictures, as well. Neither was returned by the Postal Service, so I assumed both were received. Still, we heard nothing.

Out of the blue last week, a letter arrived from the birthmother of the Littles. It was a sweet letter full of good news about herself and her family. In it she mentioned several times how glad she was to hear from us. She stated a goal to meet with us and even better news, she has regular visits with her older child, whom I feared our kids would never meet. We are now working to set a meeting time.

This meeting will be different from the past; it won’t be her taking the kids while I observe quietly in the corner. This will be two families– one, really– getting together for family fun. I think the new framework will take the pressure off everyone and begin to “normalize” our relationship with her. I am really looking forward to it.