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Teo’s Story is a book about Early Permanence Adoption. It is designed for adoptive parents to read with their young child to help them begin to understand their own adoption.
Teo’s Story is presented as one child’s story of how he and his mother came to be a family through Early Permanence Adoption. It is our hope that hearing Teo’s story will reassure children that this is a topic which can be discussed openly with their adoptive parent or parents. As children get older, they might want to understand more about the process of their adoption; for younger children the priority is likely to be that they understand that they are not living with their birth family but know that their adoptive family loves them and is totally committed to them.
Teo’s Story is therefore an intentionally simple account of one child’s story. It will hopefully create opportunities for you to talk with your child and for them to ask questions about their own story, in their own way and at their own pace.
Below, we have provided some additional information which might help to explain some of the more complex aspects of Early Permanence Adoption to your child. We have also provided a GLOSSARY which might be helpful when answering your child’s questions.
We hope that reading these pages before you read Teo’s Story with your child will help you feel better prepared to answer your child’s questions in a way that is best suited to their individual needs.
Sometimes birth families are not able to care for their child. This does not mean that the birth family don’t love their child; it means that professionals such as doctors, nurses and social workers
are worried that the child’s needs are not being met and are not likely to be met if the child stays in the care of the birth family.
We have not specified why Teo’s birth family were unable to meet his needs; every child’s story will be different. We have described in general terms what a baby needs to keep them safe, healthy, and secure.
In this story, even before Teo was born, social workers were worried that his birth family might not be able to take good care of him. When Teo was born his social worker, the nurse and doctor all agreed that there was a risk that if Teo went home with his birth family, they might not be able to look after him properly.
It will be important to decide what information is appropriate to share with your child at this stage about the reasons why their own birth family were unable to care for them.
Your child might not ask specific questions at this stage, but they will ask when they feel ready to.
Judges are very wise people who know a lot about the law. It is their job to make very important decisions to keep people safe.
When Teo’s social worker was worried that his birth family might not be able to look after him properly, she had to go to see the judge because only a judge can decide whether a child needs to be adopted.
Before the judge makes a big decision like this they need to have as much information as possible. It was a very big decision and the judge needed to be sure it was the right decision for Teo.
The first decision the judge made was that Teo needed someone else to look after him for about 6 months. This was to give the social worker, other professionals, and the birth family time to gather information about what the birth family would be able to do to look after Teo, what help they might need to do that and information about any reasons why they might not be able to look after him.
The judge told Teo’s social worker to arrange for Teo to be well looked after while this was happening so the social worker asked Aysha to be Teo’s carer for at least 6 months.
Note: At this point the judge made an Interim Care Order (ICO) which allows the Local Authority to place a child with an approved foster carer.
When Teo’s social worker came back to see the judge in 6 months, the judge looked very carefully at all the information she had been given about Teo and his birth family. Only then was the judge ready to make the big decision about whether Teo needed to be adopted.
We have stressed the role of the judge to demonstrate that this is such an important decision that only a judge has the authority to make it.
It also shows that the decision is not made by the adopters or the social workers. The child can only be placed with adopters if the judge decides that “nothing else will do.” The judge needs to be as sure as he or she can be, that adoption is the best plan for the child.
It will be important to consider how you will share with your child any information you have about the response of their birth family during this period. Again, it is usually best to share such information only when a child asks a specific question and only in a way that you feel they can understand without causing them distress.
Note: We have provided brief descriptions of the roles of Foster Carer and Early Permanence Carer in the GLOSSARY.
In this story Aysha was an Early Permanence Carer. That meant that Aysha and the social workers had already agreed that if Teo needed to be adopted he could continue to live with her, she could adopt him and become his adoptive mother. However, during the first 6 months or so of Teo’s placement with Aysha she would be his Early Permanence Carer.
Before she could do that, Aysha had to do lots of things to make sure she was ready to become an Early Permanence Carer and adopter.
Aysha knew that she wanted to be a mum and to adopt a baby whose birth family could not take care of him or her. She went to lots of meetings to learn more and more about how to give a child all the love and care they need as they grow up. She had her own social worker who visited her lots of times, gave her lots of forms to fill in, asked her lots of questions about her own family and friends and about what it was like for her when she was growing up.
Aysha and her social worker went to see a group of people called the Adoption and Permanence Panel They asked Aysha more questions. Aysha felt a bit nervous but was very happy when they agreed that she would be a very good Early Permanence carer and adopter. That meant that the social worker could ask Aysha to look after a baby who needed a foster carer while the judge decided whether the baby’s birth family could take care of him or her.
While Aysha was Teo’s foster carer she knew that they could become a family if the judge decided that would be best for Teo. Aysha knew that whatever happened, she and the social worker and the judge would all want whatever was best for baby Teo.
When the judge told the social worker to make sure Teo would be well looked after while all the information was being gathered, Teo’s social worker and her manager thought very carefully about what would be best for baby Teo.
They agreed that if the judge eventually decided that Teo should be adopted it would be very upsetting for Teo if he had to move from his foster carer to another family when he was still only 6 months old. So, they decided that the best plan for Teo would be for him to have an Early Permanence Carer. That way, if the judge decided that his birth family could not take care of him, Teo would not need to move. He would already be settled in with his Early Permanence Carer and feeling safe and happy and loved.
Teo’s social worker and her manager wanted to choose the very best Early Permanence Carer for Teo. They spoke to Aysha’s Social Worker, and they all agreed that Aysha was the best choice for Teo.
They went to visit Aysha to tell her all about Teo and to ask her if she would agree to be his Early Permanence Carer. They told her that they had especially chosen Aysha because they knew she would take very good care of baby Teo and that if he needed to be adopted Aysha would be very good at being his mum as he grew up.
Aysha felt very special to be chosen as Teo’s Early Permanence Carer. Before she met Teo his social worker had told her all about him and she already felt that he was a very special little baby. She knew that she wanted to do whatever was best for Teo, so she said, “Yes! I would love to be Teo’s Early Permanence Carer.”
Aysha agreed to look after Teo while the judge decided what would be the best plan for him. She knew that she would feel very sad if, after 6 months, the judge decided that Teo should be looked after by his birth family, because she would miss him very much.
But she also knew that she would feel very pleased to have taken very good care of him while he was a tiny baby and needed someone special to look after him.
Aysha also knew that if the judge decided that Teo did need to be adopted she could adopt Teo and become his adoptive mum.
But the most important thing was that Aysha knew she was going to give Teo all the love and care he needed, whether she was going to be his foster carer for 6 months or go on to become his adoptive mum for life.
It might be helpful to explain that your child’s story was a bit like Teo’s, e.g. “I was ready to adopt you if that was what you needed, but at first, I was your foster carer, your Early Permanence Carer. I looked after you while the social workers and the judge worked out what would be the best plan for you, but your social worker and my social worker both knew that I was ready to be your adoptive mum, if that was what you needed. I wanted whatever was going to be best for you.”
Because they are not the child’s parents, foster carers (and Early Permanence Carers) need to keep in touch with the child’s social worker. The social worker visits them at home, and they have meetings together. The foster carer keeps records of how the child is getting on; foster carers send these records to the social worker and contact the social worker if they have any concerns or if they need to ask any questions about what the baby needs.
In this story, while Aysha was Teo’s Early Permanence Carer she had to do all the things that foster carers do. That meant she had to keep records about what Teo was doing each day, how much milk he drank and how much he ate, how many times his nappy needed changing, how long he slept….and lots of other things besides.
Aysha had to send all this information every week to Teo’s social worker so she would know how he was getting on. If Teo wasn’t sleeping very well or if he wasn’t as hungry as usual, Aysha would let his social worker know right away and together they would decide what to do to help him get better.
Aysha used to take Teo to see the Health Visitor; she would weigh him and give Aysha any advice she needed about looking after Teo.
Teo’s social worker came to visit. She would ask Aysha all about Teo, what he had been doing and how he was getting on.
Aysha’s social worker used to visit too, to make sure Aysha wasn’t too tired (…it’s very hard work looking after a tiny baby!) and to ask if there was anything she needed to help her look after Teo.
All through the time Aysha was looking after Teo as his Early Permanence Carer she never called herself his mum, because at that stage she wasn’t his mum. She was his foster carer.
Sometimes both social workers came to visit along with the health visitor and a Senior Social Worker (called the IRO – Independent Reviewing Officer). These were very important meetings when everyone talked about how Teo was getting on and what he needed. The Senior Social Worker made notes about everything they had talked about and Teo’s social worker sent the notes to the judge so she could see exactly how Teo was doing.
You might find it helpful to talk about any records and memories you have from this stage of your child’s placement with you.
You might mention that at this time you were not your child’s mum or dad; that came later when you adopted him or her. But like Aysha and Teo, you became like a family - a foster family; you loved them, and you knew that if the judge decided that that was what your child needed, you could become a family for life.
You may also wish to talk about how you felt when you first met your child and during those first weeks and months while you were busy making sure he or she had everything they needed, and while you were having sleepless nights, just like any parent of a young baby.
As Teo’s Early Permanence Carer, Aysha had agreed to work with Teo’s social worker to help him keep in touch with his birth family. If the judge decided that Teo’s birth family could look after him, they would need to know as much as possible about how he was getting on and about what he was doing while he was living with Aysha.
If possible, a baby like Teo will have Family Time once or twice a week. Hopefully this will make it easier for the baby if the judge decides that they can return to the care of their birth family.
However, not all babies have Family Time. There are many reasons why Family Time might not happen; for example, a birth parent might not be well enough to come to Family Time, or they may have had to move to a different area and be unable to travel regularly to attend Family Time.
The aim is for children in Early Permanence Placements to have regular Family Time and for some level of contact to be maintained post adoption. However, the amount of contact is dependent on individual circumstances. It will be important for each family to tell the child’s individual story and to help them understand that their story might be very different from Teo’s in this respect.
Aysha also wanted to reassure Teo’s birth family that Teo was well and that he was being very well looked after. So, after a few months she wrote them a letter, telling them all the new things Teo had been learning to do, like his first smile or when he first managed to roll over on his mat.
The Early Permanence Carer gives the letter to the child’s social worker so they can pass it on to the child’s birth family. Sometimes a child’s social worker will advise the Early Permanence Carer to wait before writing this letter or, they might ask the Early Permanence Carer to write the letter now, but if it is not possible to pass it on to the birth family right away the social worker will look after the letter and pass it on to them later. Every family is different, so the social worker needs to decide what is best for each family and that means that you might not have been asked to write a letter to your child’s birth family at this stage.
Teo’s social worker also arranged for him to have Family Time. Not all children are able to have Family Time. It depends on things like how far away the birth family live, as it’s not good for little babies to spend a lot of time travelling.
It also depends on whether the baby’s birth family are able to come to Family Time. There are lots of reasons why some birth families might not come to Family Time; sometimes it is very difficult for them to get there, for example if they are not very well.
In Teo’s Story Family Time meant that Aysha would take Teo once a week to a Children’s Centre. There was a worker there called a Family Time Supervisor who would take Teo into the Family Room and stay with him while he spent some time with his birth family.
Aysha had a notebook where she wrote about what Teo had been doing since the last Family Time. The Family Time Supervisor would show the notebook to the birth family and sometimes Teo’s birth family would write a little message about how Teo had got on during the Family Time, if he had had something to eat or had his nappy changed.
At the end of Family Time Aysha would take Teo home with her. He usually fell asleep in the car!
The Family Time Supervisor always wrote some notes about how Teo and his birth family had got on and she sent these to Teo’s social worker.
It will be very important to stress that all families are different, that not all children or babies have Family Time and that there are lots of different reasons why some children do not have family time.
Where children have had Family Time children might ask questions about which family members attended and about what their Family Time was like.
For brief information about post adoption contact please see Contact in the GLOSSARY.
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While Aysha had been busy looking after Teo as his Early Permanence Carer, Teo’s social worker had also been very busy. She had been trying to get to know Teo’s birth family and work out what changes they would need to make before they could look after Teo properly.
She had to write a long report to show the judge what she had learned about the family, including what they might be able to do well and what they might find too difficult.
The judge had asked other people, such as doctors who had got to know the family, to send her their reports too. The judge read all these reports very carefully and then asked lots of questions to make sure she had all the information she needed. Then she thought about it all very, very carefully.
The judge said that this was a very big decision about Teo’s life, so she knew it was very, very important to make a wise decision. The judge would only decide that Teo, or any child, could be adopted, if nothing else would do. If the judge thinks that a child’s birth family can look after them, even with some help, then that would be the best thing for the child. But if the judge decides that the birth family are not able to look after the child properly then the best thing for the child would be to have an adoptive family.
In Teo’s Story the judge decided that even though Teo’s birth family loved him they would not be able to take care of him properly. The judge decided that Teo needed to be adopted.
Note: At this point the judge made a Placement Order (PO) which allows the Local Authority to place a child with a family (who have been approved as adopters) for adoption.
Teo’s social worker, Aysha’s social worker and Aysha all went back to see the Adoption and Permanence Panel again.
The Panel asked questions about how Teo was getting on, about how Aysha was getting on taking care of him and how she thought she might take care of him as he was growing up.
They asked Aysha why she wanted to adopt Teo. Aysha said it was because she loved Teo very much and he was the most amazing little boy in the world. She said she would be very proud to be his adoptive mum, and in any case, they already feltlike a family!
The Panel said that they were very pleased. They agreed with Teo’s social worker and Aysha’s social worker that Aysha would be the best person to be Teo’s adoptive mum.
A few weeks later Teo’s social worker went to see the judge again. The judge had read the social workers’ reports about how well Aysha was looking after Teo and the reasons why the social works believed that Aysha would be the best person to adopt him and become his family for life. The judge said she was very, very pleased to know that Teo was being so well looked after.
The judge made another big decision. This time her decision was that Aysha could adopt Teo and become his mum. The judge wrote this down to make it official: Aysha was now Teo’s mum and Teo was her son. They were a family for life!
Note: At this point the judge made the Adoption Order which stated that Aysha was now legally Teo’s parent.
Teo, Aysha and the social workers went to see the judge one last time. This time the judge told everyone how pleased she was that Teo was now adopted and how happy she was to know that Aysha and Teo are now a family.
The judge gave Teo a little teddy bear to celebrate this special day and she gave Aysha a very fancy certificate to show that this was officially Teo’s Adoption Day.
Aysha was very pleased too! She was very, very happy and proud that she had been chosen to be Teo’s adoptive mum and that she and Teo were now a family and would be a family for life.
Not all families will have had an adoption celebration with the judge in court. If you and your child did not have a formal adoption celebration you might want to describe how you and your family celebrated and why this was such an important event in the life of your family.
Adoption is when a child comes to live with another family, an adopter or adopters, and they become the child’s adoptive family. Adoption only happens when a judge has decided that that is what is best for the child. The judge then makes an Adoption Order, which means that the child and the adopters have officially become a family for life.
In this story Aysha adopts Teo and becomes his Mum.
Your Birth Family is the family you are part of when you are born.
Some people also call this their First Family.
Sometimes a Birth Family, or First Family, is not able to care for their child, so some children do not grow up with their birth family.
In this story Teo’s birth family were not able to look after him and that’s why he needed an adoptive family to look after him.
Being in contact with people is all about keeping in touch. When a baby or young child needs to move to live with foster carers, early permanence carers or adopters, the social workers and carers try to make sure that the baby or young child gets to spend some time with their birth family. This is called Family Time. It is a way of helping children and their birth families keep in touch even though they are not living together.
In this story Teo had some Family Time while Aysha was looking after him as his early permanence foster carer and while they were waiting for the judge to decide whether Teo needed to be adopted.
When a child is adopted, it is sometimes possible for the adoptive family to keep in touch with the birth family. This can happen in different ways. Some families meet once or twice a year. Other families keep in touch by writing letters or emails and sharing photos. These are sent to the Letterbox Service who pass them on to the birth family. The birth family can write back, and the Letterbox Service will send their letters or emails to the adopters.
However, not all families are able to keep in touch; every family is different.
Early Permanence Adoption
Adoption is all about making sure that children have a family who can look after them safely and give them all the love and support they need while they are growing up and even after they are all grown up.
Permanence means things are not going to change. Knowing that something is permanent can help children to feel safe and secure. When children are adopted early, as little babies or very young children, it gives them an extra chance of growing up knowing that they belong with their adoptive family and that their adopters are committed to taking good care of them and making sure they feel safe, happy, and loved.
The judge needs time to decide whether adoption is the right decision for the child, now and in the future as they are growing up. While the judge is making that important decision the baby or child needs foster carers to look after them.
Early Permanence Carers are foster carers who hope to adopt a child. They agree to look after a child while the judge makes their decision about the best plan for the child. If the judge decides that the child does not need adoption the child will return to live with his or her birth family.
But if the judge decides that the child does need adoption, they will stay with their Early Permanence carers; the Early Permanence carers can adopt the child and become his or her family for life.
We call this “Early Permanence” because the baby or young child has been living with his or her adopters since the earliest part of their life and they and their adopters have become a family for life.
In this story Teo came to live with Aysha when he was only a few days old. If the judge had decided that Teo’s birth family were able to take good care of him, he would have returned to live with them. But the judge decided that Teo needed to be adopted so he stayed with Aysha, she adopted him, and they became a family. So Teo had “Early Permanence”.
Early Permanence Carer
Early Permanence Carers are people who want to adopt a baby or young child whose birth family is not able to take care of them.
Before they are allowed to become Early Permanence Carers, they need to go to lots of meetings to learn more and more about how to give children all the love and care they need as they grow up. Then, if the social workers agree, they are allowed to become Early Permanence Carers.
That means that the social worker can ask them to look after a baby or young child who needs a foster carer while the judge is deciding whether their birth family can take care of him or her.
If the judge decides that the baby needs to be adopted, the Early Permanence Carers can go on to adopt the child and they become a family for life.
Foster carers look after children when they cannot be looked after by their birth family. Sometimes foster carers look after children for a while and then, if their birth family can look after them, the children go back to live with their birth family.
If the judge decides that the birth family cannot look after the child, the foster carers continue to look after them until the social workers have found the best family to adopt them. Then the foster carer helps the baby or child to get to know their adopters and the child moves to live with their new family.
(So Early Permanence Carers are like foster carers for a while, but the difference is that they have agreed to adopt the baby or child if the judge decides that they need adoption.)
Judges are very wise people who know a lot about the law. It is their job to make very important decisions to keep people safe.
If a child’s social worker is worried that the child’s birth family might not be able to look after them properly or make safe choices for them, the social worker must go to see the judge, because only a judge can decide whether a child needs to be adopted.
Before the judge makes a big decision like this they need to have as much information as possible. The judge asks the social worker to make sure the baby is well looked after for about 6 months, while all the information is gathered.
Then the judge thinks very carefully about all the information they have been given about the baby and his or her birth family. Only then will the judge be ready to make the big decision about whether the baby or child needs to be adopted.
Social Workers know that all babies and children need to be loved, to be kept safe and to be well cared for. It is their job to help make sure that babies and children have what they need.
Sometimes families need some extra help to make sure all the most important things get done. Social Workers can help families try to make things better so they can continue to look after their child. But sometimes it doesn’t work out and when that happens the social worker needs a plan to make sure that babies and children get the care that they need.
When Social Workers are worried that children don’t have all the important things they need, they must speak to the judge to ask them to decide who should look after the baby or young child.
Social Workers work with Early Permanence Carers and adopters to make sure they are the best people to look after a little baby or child and to become their family for life.
In this story, Teo and Aysha each have their own social worker. Both social workers come to visit to see how Teo and Aysha are getting on. When Aysha adopts Teo they don’t have social workers anymore but like all families, they can talk to a social worker if they need some extra help.
Aysha is now Teo’s Mum, and they are now a family.
We hope reading Teo’s Story with your child, will support them as they begin to ask their own questions, and become familiar with their own story of early permanence adoption. Before you read the book with your child, we hope you will find it useful to reflect on the information in the following pages to help you feel better prepared to answer your child’s questions.
However, you also need to be prepared for the fact that your child’s questions might take you by surprise. When that happens, don’t panic! It is important to answer as honestly as possible using language your child can understand. When you have more time to think about their question you might find better ways of explaining their situation to them. But if you still feel unsure about how best to answer their question, then please don’t hesitate to seek advice (see CONTACT INFORMATION).
If you would like to seek advice about how to answer any questions which are specific to your child’s story, click here.
ATV would welcome any feedback, comments or suggestions regarding our Adoption Books and these information pages:
If you would like to talk to someone about being adopted, here are some organisations that can help you:
We hope you and your child enjoy reading Teo’s Story and will return to it often. We also hope that reading Teo’s Story together will help to create opportunities for you to talk to your child about their own story and for them to ask questions.
Please look out for our second book about Early Permanence Adoption, designed for older children – coming soon!
If you would like to find out more or are ready to begin your adoption journey then we would love to hear from you today.
There are two stages in the process of adoption which we aim to complete within six months - find out more about the adoption journey.
All adopted children are different and over time they will learn to trust you and it will transform their lives – as well as yours!