This month, in addition to sending a letter to Isadora, I had two new girls to write to, Melina and Melany so I thought this would provide a great opportunity to give some tips for what to write about in that first, important letter.
Compassion may send you a template for a first letter when you receive information about your child and it's great to follow that template but you don't have to. You can always write on your own stationary if you so choose. However, if you do, it's crucial that you write your sponsor number and the child's number on the letter to ensure that it goes to your child. It is also worth pointing out that anything you send with letters (stickers, pictures, bookmarks, etc.) should have your sponsor number and the child's number on it as well.
Important things to cover in that first letter:
1. Your name
2. How old you are (if you feel comfortable sharing)
3. Where you live (not exact address, state, country, maybe city)
4. What you do (occupation/school, I don't give the exact name of my school just that I'm in my third year of college and studying psychology)
5. Names of spouse/kids/parents/siblings (whatever is most pertinent) with ages (if comfortable) and occupation/school if applicable
Other than that, everything I currently know about the child I like to provide the same information for them because they don't know a thing about who I am.
Other good things to include are:
1. What I like to do for fun
2. What my favorite food, color, and animal are (and ask the child what there's are)
3. Share my favorite Bible verse or story (ask if the child has a favorite)
4. Share what I want to after school (and ask the child what he/she wants to be when he/she grows up)
Even though you probably want to know everything you possibly can about this child right away, refrain from asking more than three questions per letter. This can become overwhelming for the child and you have a better chance of getting your questions answered if you don't have as many and keep them in one area of the letter (like at the end). Some people highlight them to make them stand out.
Things to ask the child:
Basically, anything you don't currently know about the child that you want to know. This is probably a lot so try to keep it with basic introductory questions and as time goes on you can ask more questions and continue to further your relationship.
Things to send the child:
1. Picture(s) of yourself or your family (make sure you point out which one is you). Don't over think this or give yourself anxiety about it. The child doesn't care what you look like, the child just wants to know who you are. You know what the child looks like, he/she will want to be able to put a face to the name too.
The only word of caution with pictures though is there can be no revealing clothing (no swimsuits) and no anti-Christian messages. Also, no pictures that advertise your material possessions (the child will likely not understand and it's kind of rude) and nothing that shows where you live (for your own privacy)
2. Stickers. Children love stickers. Period.
Don't stress yourself out too much about it and most importantly, have fun as you begin to build this relationship!
Questions/concerns? Feel free to ask!