Vent-I can't check your mail for you! (Long story)
Our OA requires that my son's Biological mother contact me by mail by the 15th of the month prior to the scheduled visit month to provide me with three possible dates to choose from. I am required to respond by mail. I am also required to send an update and current photo every year in December. One of the lawyers involved in the case advised me to always send all my communication with her by Certified Mail so that I have proof of delivery, if there is ever a question about it.

So, this month I received her letter regarding the visit on the 17th. It was postmarked the 15th though, so no big deal. In her letter she also reminded me that it is December and she hasn't received her update yet. She also asked whether I preferred that she send a gift or gift card for my son for Christmas.

Well, I had the update letter already written and was just waiting for some pictures I had professionally printed to arrive. I always send several photos from different times of the year, more than the required single current photo. As soon as they arrived I put them in the envelope, added a few lines letting her know which visit date worked for us and sent it by Certified Mail on Dec. 19. I also told her, not for the first time, that a gift card was best, especially since my son's wish list was already pretty well covered. I refrained from mentioning that even though she has asked me about gifts/gift cards for Christmas or birthdays over the past couple of years she has only followed through one time.

Fast forward to today. I received another letter from her reminding me that it was December and she still has not received her update letter or my choice for the date for a visit! Using my Certified Mail receipt I tracked the letter and it was delivered on December 20th and a notice was left for her.

At this point we are way past the deadline for her to be able to arrange the visit, especially since the Visitation Center we use is very strict about following the letter of these agreements. I just printed out another letter for her stating this fact and telling her that the original letter has been delivered, but she has to actually go in and claim it. If she doesn't claim it within 15 days it will be automatically returned to me. I let her know that if it does come back I will resend it one more time. This is also not the first time this has happened. We went through a similar thing over the summer, and there was no visit because she couldn't or wouldn't claim her Certified Mail.

Now I'm wondering if I am just being too rigid about it and maybe I should just take the chance of sending updates and responses via regular mail, in spite of the lawyer's advice. I really don't want to withhold the information from her, but at the same time, I do want to stick with some boundaries. It just feels like she should be required to at least manage this one fairly simple responsibility she has in order to arrange these visits. All she has to do is claim the mail and call the Visitation Center to confirm the date. That's it! Oh, and she does have to pay for it.

My son (10) knows what months visits are supposed to happen and that his Biological mother is responsible for arranging them. So far, he has been very neutral about the whole thing. If they happen, fine. If not fine. I do worry that some day he is going to wonder why she couldn't follow through and may feel like she didn't care enough about him to do it. Sometimes it feels like she is doing just enough to make it look like she is trying, but then she allows the dates to slip by or something happens to prevent her from getting her mail or being able to contact the Visitation Staff.

Am I being totally unreasonable? Or should I stay firm and expect her to be able to manage this much?
I think I would stick to the certified mail. If she is choosing not to get the letters, that is not your fault. I guess the only thing I would consider changing is the visit set up? Is there a particular reason you go to a center vs getting together w/ her on your own? We are currently not doing visits, but we've done them at the park, restaurant, etc in the past. We don't leave the kids alone with her at all.
Thanks Lakin. She really has proven that she has difficulty with boundaries and would probably just take advantage if I tried to be more flexible.

Supervised visits are part of the agreement and I would definitely not be comfortable putting my son in the middle. I actually prefer having an objective third party involved to ensure appropriate contact. Sadly, because his case was drawn out so long and lots of damaging things happened in the meantime, I have no interest in having any more contact with his Biological mom than I have to.
When reading your thread, one idea popped immediately into my mind. I live in a small rural area...and our postal service is horrible. Our postmaster often holds certified letters up at the post office for us instead of delivering them...and they fail to notify us that they're there. This has happened more times than I can count. Is there a chance that she wasn't notified?
I suppose its possible, Raven, but when I check the tracking info it states that a notice was left for her. I assumed that means a notice like a package slip is left in her box. I may double check with my local post office on Monday though and find out exactly what the procedure is.

She has received certified mail from me before in the past couple of years though.
dizzilee said...
I suppose its possible, Raven, but when I check the tracking info it states that a notice was left for her. I assumed that means a notice like a package slip is left in her box. I may double check with my local post office on Monday though and find out exactly what the procedure is.

She has received certified mail from me before in the past couple of years though.
The thing about my post office, which may be happening to her too, is that the postmaster signs off on the tracking notice and puts it into the computer, showing that I signed for it when I did not even know it was there. My mom used to always send packages or documents to me via certified or registered mail, and we discovered that the postmaster was indeed making the tracking records look like I had signed for them. I finally told her to stop wasting her money and just send me regular mail.
I would stick with your current way of doing things. If she can't hold up her end of the bargain, then that's on her. Maybe send two copies of your response letters/ pictures. Send one via regular mail and one via certified mail. Just in case she really hasn't been getting notification, my post office fails to inform us sometimes as well too. It DOES happen. But don't stop sending via certified, because you need that proof in case Biological mom ever wants to start something and claim you never send her a response or updates. I'm sure it wouldn't cost very much to just send one copy via regular mail and another copy via certified mail to cover your butt.
Why can't you use delivery confirmation instead of certified mail. With certified mail she MUST sign for it to get the mail, which means if she is not home she can't get the letter unless she goes to the post office and signs for it. With delivery confirmation it's just a barcode the mail carrier scans when they leave the letter at her address. Much easier to deal with (IMO) and you get the same result (you can see the letter was delivered on X date at Y time).

I lived in an urban area where we had mail box stands, so when we got certified mail we didn't get it they always just left a pink slip in the box saying to pick up the mail at the post office. It was a pain.

Now I live in a rural area and they don't come up the driveway, so if we have certified mail they leave a slip in the box and I have to again find time to make it to town and get the dang letter...
Budget cuts in our town has left our post office with regular hours of something like 10a-3p which doesn't work for me at all. My sister lives in another state and used to go to her post office on her lunch hour only to find a sign on the locked door saying "at lunch." Honestly, I'd either quit sending stuff certified...but that's just me.
I did wonder if she has actually gotten the notice, but then I know that if I was waiting for an important letter or package and I didn't see it within a reasonable amount of time I would be going to the post office to ask about it personally. I am familiar with the area where she lives and it shouldn't be that difficult to get to the post office even without a car.

Hopefully, she will get my follow up letter within the next day or so and realize that the original is waiting for her at the post office even if they didn't notify her.

And Impacting, using delivery confirmation is a good suggestion. I may just do that from now on to save myself the angst!
The rest of the story, so far...
I sent out my second letter by regular mail on Saturday. In it, I let mom know that my certified letter had been delivered and was waiting for her to claim it at the Post Office.

Today someone from the Visitation Center called and told me that mom had called them and left a message this Monday stating that she just received her letter and wanted to arrange a visit, even though she is already beyond the deadline that they initially gave her. They decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and have been trying to call her back to arrange it ever since. No answer and no voicemail enabled. As of today, they have decided that there will be no visit.

I should add that my son is part of a large sibling group, all adopted separately, and similar glitches have continually happened with his siblings since the adoptions two years ago. Several of the adoptive families have decided not to continue visits at this time. I am not at that point yet, but am feeling more and more inclined to support the Visitation Center in sticking with the letter of our agreement and holding those boundaries.

If my son was more invested in the visits I would definitely stretch the guidelines a bit if necessary. He is very neutral about it all right now, willing to go if he has to, but not real eager about it and doesn't seem too concerned when they are missed.
Could I make a suggestion - back in my working days, when I sent official things to students (I worked at a university) I would do one copy certified and one regular mail. The certified was the official one but the students usually would get the regular mail one first. You could note on the regular one that the photos are in the certified copy so you don't have to send two copies of the photo.
It may streamline things a bit and you still have the official certified proof that it was sent.
I also suggest certified & regular mail. I work for a state agency, and we send things to people via certified & regular mail when we need to prove that they were served. The courts in my state consider the letter 'served' if the regular envelope wasn't returned to us, even if the person never went and picked up the certified copy.

Good luck.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I will probably try either the delivery confirmation or sending two copies (one certified) next time. If she doesn't follow through then at least I will know that I made it as easy as possible from my end.
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