The following are independent comments made by a "searcher" who has assisted many New Zealand adoptive families to make contact with birth relatives of their adopted child.
I think it fair to say that in 90% of those cases where the bio mother is seen she, and the Russian family are delighted with the contact, appreciate it and want further contact. However in Kazakhstan for instance, there are far more instances of cases where the biological mother and the family do not welcome the contact and do not want further contact, even though they may in some instances be prepared to receive the searchers and they be interviewed.
Certainly in cases where the bio mother has relinquished her child at birth nearly all of them (except in Kazakhstan and other Muslim countries), are very happy to hear about the welfare of the child they gave up. Even in cases where there has been the most serious neglect and abuse of an infant culminating in the termination of parental rights by the court, the biological mother has invariably shown interest and expresses joy in knowing that the child is now leading a full and happy life and growing up with parents who love him/her and look after him/her well. They are usually surprised that adoptive parents have gone through the expense and trouble in letting them know about the infant because in Russia, if a child is adopted into a Russian family it is practically unheard of for any contact to be attempted by the adoptive parents.
Generally though, the first letter should thank the biological father/mother for receiving the searchers and for agreeing to be interviewed and disclosing so much detail about their personal lives. It should be sympathetic and go on to say that this must not have been easy. The thing to avoid during the early stages of contact is any further questions, even though you may be burning to ask them. Enclose some photographs of yourself and family, go on to talk about "chatty" subjects, like any hobbies that they may have that have been reported to you in our report. Tell them what your son or daughter has done recently. Sympathise with any ailments which they may have. I have not seen any letters from adoptive parents which breach any cultural rules. Common sense is the guideline. End the letter by saying that you hope to receive a reply and that the contact between you will be ongoing and fruitful.
Many people have had searches done by us where the mother was deprived her parental rights. I think the percentage of those that we do is about 60/40 (in favour of bio mothers who voluntarily relinquish their children at birth). Contrary to what many people believe, children are not taken away from their parents in Russia without very good reason, although when we see the former parents they usually blame the deprivation of their parental rights on nosy neighbours or over zealous officials.
99% of cases we deal with where deprivation of parental rights was the cause of the child being placed in an orphanage involve abuse of alcohol on the part of the biological mother. This type of case of case is far more likely to throw up unsavoury aspects concerning the period when the child in question was still with the biological parents but can often serve to help with any issues their child may have following adoption, for example nightmares, bed wetting etc., and can also help to resolve the question of whether the child may be suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome or other problems related to bio mother's alcohol consumption during her pregnancy.
I think it's fair to say that one should always remember that no child ends up in an orphanage in Russia where there are ideal family conditions at the biological mother's home and cases involving loss of parental rights because of neglect or abuse are particularly sad.