Writing a later life letter

Writing a later life letter

Fran Moffat


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A later life letter is one written by a social worker to a child who is being adopted, to help the child make sense of their past, but it is intended to be read later in the child’s life. This is a difficult and delicate task. How do you write to a young person who may not remember you? How do you explain painful events in the young person’s childhood? What is the role of the adoptive parents in the writing and use of the letter?

This Good Practice Guide focuses on the practicalities of writing a later life letter.

Who is this book for?

All practitioners and managers involved in writing later life letters, or in ensuring that agency policy and practice properly support and enable their writing and use.

What you will find in this book

The guide includes information on:

  • what should and should not be included in a later life letter
  • how to explain difficult or painful issues, such as abuse, death of a birth parent and disruption
  • the importance of tone and language used
  • the place of the letter within life story work
  • involving the adopters in writing the letter and explaining how best to share it with their child

Examples of text from later life letters help to illustrate and clarify the guide’s practical advice, and a range of helpful appendices and supplements are also provided. 


Fran Moffat:

Fran Moffat worked as a Trainer Consultant with BAAF Southern England for 11 years. She currently undertakes consultancy work and acts as an independent chair of an adoption panel.