When we started our adoption journey, we were clueless. We did a lot of research on our own to narrow down what type of adoption we felt best suited our family, but even that was extremely overwhelming. When we finally selected an agency to move forward with our dream of adding a child to our family, we were ready to dive into the education portion of our adoption.
In my state, the laws for a home study require a certain amount of preservice training, which is often met by taking the classes offered by the state foster care system. There have been alternate classes accepted that can be taken online or other ways as well. It is up to the individual agency or home study assessor to determine if they would like to add on to that required training. The problem with taking the state classes or meeting the minimum requirements is that those classes do not address many things in the type of adoption we were pursuing. While we were encouraged to keep track of books, articles, movies, or other educational resources we used to satisfy our own needs, there was no real guidance on what else we should learn to benefit our child or our open adoption relationship.
While the very general classes we were required to take for the home study were fine, more detailed classes would have been beneficial—and what great way to pass time while we waited!
Things I wish they had taught us more about:
Exposure to substances. While we learned about some exposure issues, we were not educated on why we should still consider babies born with exposure.
Transracial adoption. We learned some culturally important aspects about transracial adoption, but it would have been amazing to have support and resources offered to broaden our knowledge.
Open adoption relationships. We learned about the history of open and closed adoption and why open adoption was thought to be more beneficial for everyone. But it was very broad and did not address navigating the relationship or how each open adoption looks very different from the next.
Adoption language. We were not taught about modern or positive adoption language and we were left to learn that lesson on our own when we sought out support groups. Not only can adoption agencies benefit from using modern adoption language, but teaching hopeful adoptive families about it is a big step towards change.
Birth mother panels. I adopted from an agency that did not provide us with birth mother panels. It would have been amazing to hear real life stories from women who placed their children in an adoptive family.
Adoption training can be overwhelming if given in bulk, but careful sorting of materials that deliver impactful messages can be invaluable in putting adoptive parents’ minds at ease as well as setting them up for successful adoption outcomes and relationships in the future.
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