Contact arrangements between a child and their birth family are usually agreed before an adoption order is granted, with the frequency and type of contact set out in a signed agreement. They can be reviewed in the light of a child's needs over time, in which case the original agreement would be updated.

The different types of contact are:

  • Letterbox contact: This is sometimes called 'indirect contact'. Adopted children and their birth families can maintain contact through the exchange of written information like birthday cards and newsletters, and sometimes photographs. This is a confidential service managed individually by each borough's adoption and permanence team within the consortium.


  • Direct contact: This is face-to-face contact between the adoptive family and the child's birth family. NLAC social workers help in preparing everyone for contact, and assist with practical arrangements such as providing a suitable place to meet, supervision of contact (if required), and sometimes help with expenses. Adoption Support social workers can also offer a mediation service if there are disagreements about contact or if changes in contact need to be discussed.