Early permanence

Thursday 30 March 2023

Every placement is unique and comes with its own challenges, but EP can give a child the most amazing start to life.

In 2021 there were 77 adoption placements arranged by ATV and of those, only 11 were Early Permanence placements, my husband Nathan and I were one of those 11 families/ placements.

Early Permanence was not something we had ever heard of or considered before until our adoption prep days. A child focussed approach is how it was described to us, a route of adoption where the child’s needs and welfare come first. I vividly remember the conversation in the car with Nathan on the way home that day about whether this route of adoption would be something we would consider and for me I didn’t feel fazed, in fact I remember specifically thinking to myself, isn’t “child focussed” the main theme with all adoption placements, not just early permanence? With EP, I particularly liked the thought of providing certainty and stability for a child who has already experienced trauma with the separation from their birth family from potentially experiencing loss again in the attachments they make to foster carers.

With ATV you are prepared well for what to expect in an EP placement such as the daily records you need to keep about the child in your care, meetings you will need to attend,  and a basic can and can’t do list that defines your initial role as a foster carer however nothing can quite prepare you for the rollercoaster ride of emotions you experience through an EP placement.

For me there was the pure shock of having a baby in your life, and tiredness that came with that! There were moments of pure joy, like when she smiled at me for the first time, which was then unexpectedly followed by sadness and guilt that her birth mum and dad missed it or that my happiness was dependant on someone else’s pain. As a couple, we learned to be open and honest and check in with each other about how we were feeling. We found comfort from the 6 weekly online meets with other ATV EP carers, hearing their experiences and seeking reassurances that we aren’t the only ones to go through what we were.

Fast forward 2 years and I’m now a mummy to the most confident, settled, independent but also stubborn child. She is the child that runs into nursery without a look back or a goodbye kiss.

One of my favourite memories of her was following her around and around the arrivals lounge while we waited for daddy to arrive back from a work trip like it was the Katie show!

She was about 16months old, just getting confident on her feet and learning the odd word, but she waddled from person to person for ages waving and giving a cheery ‘hiya’, often targeting individuals who look like they might otherwise be uncomfortable around children and holding her arms up in the air requesting to be picked up!   

Although I can’t categorically say that early permeance is why my child is how she is, I do strongly believe it played a key role. EP is not for the faint hearted however if you were to ask me is it worth it, my answer would be absolutely and if you asked me if I would do it again…my answer is yes, because it is totally worth it, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.