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Most children who are fostered or adopted have some level of contact with their birth family — whether face-to-face or by letter — yet most of the time the psychological impact of contact on the child isn’t considered.

This book explores what attachment, neuroscience and trauma tell us about how contact affects children, and shows how poorly executed contact can be unhelpful or even harmful to the child. Assessment frameworks are provided which take the child’s developmental needs into account. The authors also outline a model for managing and planning contact to make it more purposeful and increase its potential for therapeutic benefit. The book covers the challenges presented by the internet for managing contact, unique issues for children in kinship care, problems that arise when adoptive parents separate and many other key issues for practice.

Brimming with practical advice and creative solutions, this is an indispensable tool for social workers, contact centre workers, and other professionals involved in contact arrangements or the therapeutic support of fostered and adopted children.


Elsie and Louis illustrate contact can be a positive force helping the child to disentangle the web and live comfortably with those in her life, whether directly or indirectly. Much compassion is shown for the child at the centre, but Elsie and Louis go much further. They also have compassion for the adopters, foster carers, other family relations and the birth parents, where it all began. Their sensitive and moving case examples show us that contact can be healing for all involved; leaving the child stronger and those touched by this child healthier.
From the foreword by Kim Golding, Clinical Psychologist with Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
This sensitive insight into the world of children and young people separated from the families that gave them birth should be required reading for everyone who makes decisions that affect the lives of these children… the potential for transformation and recovery when contact is approached and planned from the perspective of the needs of the child provides real hope for achievable improvements in the lives of our most vulnerable children. I recommend this book unreservedly.
Kate Cairns, Director of KCA Training and Consultancy