Share Your Story: Pre-Adoption Education

Some international adoption regulations require pre-adoption education for all prospective adopters. Do you think this is a good idea? What kind of preparation did you have? Would you do anything differently?

A man teaches an adoption education class

You Can Form Important Connections That Will Help You Through the Adoption

I was part of Sacramento County Foster/Adopt program. We were required to take an 8-week class. At the end of our training, we received our Foster Care License. Not only did we learn a lot in training, but we formed a support group. The eight families still keep in touch and get together frequently for birthdays, holidays, and adoption celebrations. —Vickie, California

It’s good to require adoption education, just as it’s good to require driver education. A combination of pre- and post-adoption education is what I recommend. My husband and I have a great social worker who helped us work through parenting and relationship issues before we adopted our daughter. Our agency provided us with post-adoption help that was and is immensely helpful as well. One good piece of advice we received was: “Many adoptive children will regress and repeat a learning or developmental stage with you to aid in the attachment process. That’s normaldon’t worry if she takes a few steps backward at first. Think of the shock she has just been through.” —Marjorie

My husband and I are in the process of adopting two children from Russia. While our friends, family members, and co-workers go to Lamaze classes, we go to adoption classes. Fortunately, we have an International Adoption Clinic here in Cincinnati. We learned about medical concerns and developmental stages, heard from an occupational therapist and speech pathologist, got to interact with other parents who have been through the international adoption process, and met with a social worker about attachment issues. We got more out of these sessions than we could have ever hoped!  We continue to read books, magazines and Web sites, but these classes were by far the best experience we could have had. —Julie, Ohio

Some People Respond Better to Teaching Than Self-Education

As part of our adoption process, my husband and I attended more than 40 hours of pre-adoption education provided by our agency. It was great to attend the classes with my husband, as they led to many discussions between us. My husband is not the avid book hound or Internet surfer that I am, so it was much easier for him to learn from the agency than from me. —Becca

As a Social Worker/Educator, I’m All For It!

As a Family Life Educator and an adoptive parent, I am a strong advocate for pre-adoptive education. There are parenting skills unique to the adoptive setting, including relating to the adoption agency, navigating the legal system, and meeting the needs of a child who has been in institutional or fragmented care. Pre-adoption education offers parents instruction and guidance in preparing for their child’s physical and developmental needs, as well as information regarding medical and legal issues. Pre-adoptive education can also provide a rich network of follow-up resources and support. —Missy, Pennsylvania

As an adoptive parent and social worker, I fully support the regulation for pre-adoption education. There are many issues related to adoption that couples may not consider in the excitement of bringing a child into the family. My husband and I have adopted from Russia twice and we received pre-adoption education as part of our home study. Our social worker gave us a lot of information to think about and consider. I believe that ALL parents should be required to take a parenting course before they have children—the more informed we are, the better choices we make, and the better parents we are. —Michelle

Yes, and It Should Be Custom-Tailored

The first time we adopted, we received general childcare information, but very little about our child’s country or issues that surface as children get older. I think that all adoptive parents should be educated about their child’s geographic and cultural origins. There are far too many kids out there who don’t know anything about their heritage. If they are adopting internationally, the parents should pick up their child themselves, so they can learn about their child’s culture and life first-hand. —Sue

It Should Have Been Required to Begin With

Our local Lutheran Social Services office required all of its families to attend a series of pre-adoption classes that touched on everything from dealing with infertility-related grief to the dossier preparation process to what it’s like to grow up adopted. My wife and I were shocked to learn that similar classes were not required everywhere and by all agencies. Our experience would not have been as smooth had we not attended these pre-adoption classes. We are grateful to the LSS staff for their assistance and have recommended the classes to other families considering adoption. We are very pleased to hear that such classes are now a requirement for all families. Not only did we learn a lot, but we also formed new friendships. In the sea of seemingly endless, redundant, and unnecessary adoption regulations, this one is key. —Chip and Celeste

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