October 8th, 2007
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Sometimes I have issues that I don’t even realize I have! While reading the forums, I came across a thread in which an adoptive mother was asking for advice. She had received a thank you note from her child’s birth mother’s parented daughter, thanking her for a recent gift. The (birth) mother had written the letter for her daughter who was not yet old enough to write. She had signed it with the following closing:

Hope to see you again soon, Name.

The adoptive mother was asking whether or not she was being manipulated by the birth mother through the child to have another visit soon. I cringed.

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Nicholas spent some time coloring pictures for the Munchkin and JD last week. I got around to writing a brief note, sealing all three pieces of paper in an envelope and dropping them in the mailbox just hours before reading this thread. The note was “from” Nicholas. It was signed with, “Hope to see you soon.”

Talk about a bad feeling in your gut.

To be honest, there were no manipulative reasonings behind the choice of words to close the letter. I didn’t even think twice about it until I read the thread. Now? I’m freaking out! What else have I said in the past, through my own voice or through Nick’s notes, that could have been taken in the wrong context? What words are of a dubious nature?

Is it okay to sign a letter with “love”? Or is that stepping too far into territories that birth parents and their family members are supposed to stay away from? “Sincerely” would come across as cold and detached, wouldn’t it? As would doing something like signing your name without any form of a closing. Is there a way to write anything without the intent being questioned?

It’s things like this issue (and multitudes of others) that leave birth parents with a constant feeling that they are walking upon eggshells. When even the choice of wording in a closing of a brief letter is questioned, how are we (as birth parents) ever able to feel secure in our roles, in what we do or how we do it? These are times when manuals would be nice.

And so, the questions remain: Have you said anything in a letter to purposefully manipulate your child’s adoptive parents? And, on the flip side, adoptive parents: has your child’s birth mother (or birth father) ever written anything in a letter that you felt was purposefully manipulative? How were the situations handled? What is and what is not okay to write in a letter concerning things like legitimately missing a child or wanting to see them soon?

The questions are endless, aren’t they?

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For more, read:

1. Nice Notes.

2. Healing: Write a Letter to Your Past Self.

3. Technology Brings Us Together.

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Photo Credit.

5 Responses to “Choosing Words for Letters”

  1. Deb Donatti says:

    I can’t get my kids birthfamilies to write them enough (but then I am not a good letter writer either, so they might feel jipped because they do not get enough from me.)
    Personally I do not see what was wrong with how the letter you mention was signed. It was done in such a general manner, it hardly seems anything “manipulative” was implied. I mean isn’t ok to share the feeling that you enjoyed seeing one another, and another visit soon would be a pleasant thing?
    I think it really comes down to feeling secure enough about our own importance to our child, that we are then ok to hear (and speak) about our wishes for more visits.

  2. Deb; It’s a struggle for me to remember to write PHYSICAL letters at times. It’s one of my “flaws.” I guess I’m just so used to internet contact and talking on the phone (though that has been lessened because Nicholas is LOUD) that I forget about the importance of that “physical” contact. I’ve been working on it on my end and am just starting to find a groove. I hope to keep it up. Indefinitely.

    Thanks for your opinions on the closing of that letter. I needed some more input.

  3. My stepmom just sent me a bunch of things she found in a box that had belonged to my dad that originally came from me. Along with photos were some letters I’d written at various times in the past.
    He’s been dead for 16 years, but reading what I’d written 20+ years ago took me right back to the time when we communicated in many ways.
    I know I’m going to regret the lack of all those hard copies someday.
    As for the closings, I get letters from my bank signed, Yours truly. They aren’t, not by a long shot, but I don’t assume they’re trying to pull a fast one on me.
    Over-thinking can be as dangerous as not thinking at all sometimes.

  4. Coley S. says:

    Ok, I was mildly freaking for a sec too as I have written “hope to see you soon” in letters/cards and a recent one I sent last week! I always sign my letters/cards/anything to ANYONE in Charlie’s adoptive family (including his grandma, A’s Mom) with “love,” and our names. So I wanted to call A anyway and this was a good excuse! I asked her if she thought the “hope to see you soon” was being manipulative in anyway and she laughed at me and said I had too much time to think!

    But I realize that each situation is different and not like ours…

  5. browneyes says:

    Jenna:
    I guess I kind of DO try to manipulate my DD’s a-mom in my closing. I use “hope to hear from you soon Love,B” and I purposely choose that phrasing to illicit a response. Because I do hope to hear from her soon, and I hope that she realizes from that how much I really want to hear from her. It’s unfortunate that I feel I HAVE to try to “manipulate” the situation, and I DEFINITELY overthink everything, but based on my current state of affairs, I feel I have to. (I know you’re familiar!)

    So coming from my POV, (and I remember the thread you’re talking about) it is possible that there could be an issue in this situation where the a-mom legitimately feels that the birthparent is trying to push a boundary so to speak.
    Because I know if my dd’s a-mom felt that way, she’d be right, KWIM?

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