Matthew - The adoption process and early permanence

Adoption Bucks, 28 November 2023 - Case studies , About adoption , What we have to offer

Are you considering adoption? You might hear the term 'early permanence' - where a very young child is placed with a prospective adopter while the court decides who they will live with permanently. Early permanence can help reduce the number of moves a child may experience, plus build stronger bonds with prospective adopters. We spoke to Matthew about adopting through early permanence ...

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Matthew’s story

My name's Matthew. We adopted our first child three years ago through early permanence. We're currently fostering another little child, hopefully, to adopt them through early permanence as well.

To qualify as early permanence adopters, we received foster care training, as well as our adoption training. There's a lot to consider before choosing to adopt through early permanence. It's a real possibility that the child in your care will no longer be looking for adoption and return to their birth family. It's a big decision to take this route.

The adoption process is divided into two stages. During the first stage, the Adoption team complete a range of statutory checks including medicals. You also receive your ' Prep to Adoption' training and be encouraged to do lots and lots of research. It takes a couple of months.

We read a lot throughout the entire process, right from the beginning. As new concepts came up, we went out and found out more about them. The training gave us new resources and we still haven't stopped reading and learning.

We were also encouraged by the Adoption team to talk to other adopters. Our second time through the adoption process, we specifically asked to be put in touch with a couple who'd adopted twice and not adopted twins or two children at once but adopted one and then a few years later adopted another one. We met with a local couple who had this experience and that was helpful.

Couple reading to learn more about adoption

Research is an important part of the adoption process.

The second stage of the process was our formal assessment as adopters. During this time, you have a lot of meetings with the adoption team. It can feel invasive and intense, but you can understand exactly where all the questions come from. The social workers summarize all the information into your report, ready for approval (hopefully) by the adoption panel.

Overall, the process can feel long. However, you will feel yourself progressing - you can feel yourself engaging with all the issues and being rounded out into someone ready to adopt.

Once we were approved, we were able to start looking for a child to join our family. The matching process was different for us as we were adopting through early permanence. We couldn't go searching through children's profiles for a match because the profiles didn't exist yet. Instead, the social workers approached us and said an unborn baby needed a home and we were given a paragraph of information.

The first time we went through the process, we applied for three or four profiles before we were able to take a child into our care. It was never anything negative on us. It was just that the plan for those children changed, and they weren't going to adoption placements anymore.

With our first son, we roughly knew when he was due and were drip-fed information for a month and a half. Suddenly, we got a phone call on a Monday saying he'd been born and then a phone call on Wednesday saying, "Right, you can come to the hospital now". It happened very fast - going from nothing to everything.

When something has come up and we've needed support, we've been able to talk to any one of three or four social workers. They have all been equally helpful and pointed us in the right direction. With both our placements, we've needed medical intervention including Health Visitors and the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). We've had physio and OT (Occupation Therapists) involved as well.

Group of prospective adopters meeting to give support

Meeting other adopters to share experiences can be invaluable.

The Adoption team's support there has been fantastic because they can talk to you about what is going on. There's no way an adopter could train for everything. Adoption training gives a good grounding in all the main topics, but you can't be specific about anything until you've come across it and dealt with it.

Since beginning our adoption journey, we've worked with countless professionals. You'll get on with some of them very well. You might not get on with them all, but you'll still be able to have a professional relationship. For us, as we have fostered to adopt, we are effectively another professional in the chain - we have a role in the life of this child. Many of the professionals we've dealt with treat us like we have an important and valid opinion which is helpful.

If you are thinking about adoption, try to find as many other people as possible who are doing something similar to you and talk to them all the time. We ended up making new friends who were also from the adoption world and understood what was going on. That's my best advice.

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