Book cover

Matching a child in an early permanence placement: the importance of identity

Sixteen key messages


The matching of a child’s ethnicity, culture, religion and language with those of their prospective adopters has been a longstanding and challenging set of policy and practice questions. This discussion paper addresses this challenge by focusing on 16 key messages, inviting the reader to reflect on the importance of the development of a child’s identity over time and then into adulthood. 

Who is this book for?

This discussion paper will be of interest to all adoption and fostering managers and practitioners involved in the process of matching children in care. 

What you will find in this book

This discussion paper focuses on 16 key messages about the importance of identity in matching, and what to explore in matching a child’s ethnicity, culture, religion and language with those of their prospective adopters. 

The 16 messages are written to stimulate a considered exploration of the challenge in evaluating, at the point of the match, those factors that might facilitate the development of a positive and confident sense of the child’s identity that endures over time. This includes the significance of the adopters having the motivation, commitment, insight and skills to proactively co-create a life story narrative with the child that forms the basis for an identity that includes their history and heritage.

Thoughtful and child-centred in its approach, the messages contained in this discussion paper will add and reinforce an important perspective – that the development of a child’s identity is core to who they are and who they will become, who they are seen to be, and how they come to play their part in the relational world around them.


Dr John Simmonds is Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF. His career spans social work practice as well as academia, and he was previously Head of the Social Work Department at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is currently a member of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, sits on advisory groups for a number of university-based research projects, and has authored many papers and publications. He is also an adoptive father of two, now adult, children. 


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