Should Education Classes Be a Required Part of the Adoption Home Study?

Is adoption training really important?

Sarah M. Baker July 10, 2015
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Depending on the type of adoption you are pursing, various training will likely be a part of completing your home study. You may question the reasoning behind the time-consuming classes, books, tests, group meetings, etc. You may wonder why adoptive parents are subjected to education when people who have children biologically aren’t required to have training. Each state and each agency has different requirements as to what counts as training and how much training or hours of classes are required.

I look at every chance to learn something new as a blessed opportunity. I personally LOVE to learn. I even would go as far to say that your training in adoption shouldn’t stop at the finishing the home study. Continued education in adoption, changing studies, and helping your child through the emotions of adoption is all something we can learn more about.

So what can you take away from those classes, books, magazines, and movies?

  1. History of Adoption: It’s important to understand the history of adoption and the evolution of adoption. Understanding the roots of adoption, how adoption language has evolved and why, and the cultural differences of adoption helps us understand our children as well as grow into our new role as adoptive parents.
  2. Trauma: Whether adopting an infant, through foster care, or internationally, there is some level of trauma attached to adoption. Acknowledging the loss your child has faced will help you bond as well as cope with future questions and emotions.
  3. Decision-making: Some training will focus on your options in adoption. You will be faced with difficult decisions to make when setting your preferences on what your family can handle in adoption. You will be educated on babies exposed to substances, parenting across racial lines, special needs or medical case adoptions, as well as open vs. closed adoptions. You will then be able to make an informed decision and may find yourself more open to many situations that previously scared you.
  4. Bonding: Many adoption classes will focus on bonding with your new child as well as moving past infertility and accepting your new role as a parent through adoption. You may learn about things like Post-Adoption Depression or bonding with a child who has suffered trauma.
  5. Adoption Sensitivity:  You may be given the opportunity to sit before a birth parent panel and learn that every birth parent or expectant parent has a unique story. You may be surprised and have new found respect. You will learn about ethical adoption as well as the preferred modern adoption language.  You may be able to hear from people who were adopted and hear firsthand experiences about open vs. closed adoption and many other emotional topics.
  6. Adoption Talks:  A big part of a lot of required training is learning how to talk to  your child, as well as other people, about adoption. Training can walk the hopeful adoptive parents through scenarios and help prepare them for difficult questions their child and other people will inevitably have.
  7. Adoption in the Media: You may be required or encouraged to read adoption-themed books or watch movies with an adoption plot. You will see how adoption is portrayed in the media and be able to form opinions based on that. A special note to consider is that not all adoption storylines depict the norms. Many are for pure entertainment and have over-the-top plot twists. It is important to recognize that many people believe that is what adoption really looks like. Your education can help dispel these stereotypes.
  8. Questions: Adoption education can answer questions you didn’t even know you had as well as provide the groundwork for forward thinking and coming up with new questions that surround adoption and long term growth.

While classes on general parenting aren’t a required part of when you have biological children, adoption training often covers many things someone wouldn’t immediately consider. You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know it. Adoption training can open your eyes and broaden your mind, preparing you for what your family is about to take on in your newly grafted family.

What were some things you want to learn more about or really liked about adoption training you have already taken?

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Sarah M. Baker

Sarah is a Staff Storyteller for and passionate about teaching others the power of open adoption. She is very active in the adoption community, where she spends a lot of time advocating as the founder of Heart For Open Adoption. She is the mom of two boys in addition to parenting her niece. She is a mother biologically and through domestic infant open adoption. Sarah promotes adoption education and ethical adoptions. She and her husband were featured on Season 2 of Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby,” which tells the story of their first adoption match failing. Sarah hopes to bring her personal experience to you and help anyone who wants more information about adoption to find it with ease. Though it was once a taboo subject, Sarah hopes to make adoption something people are no longer afraid to talk about. You can learn more about Sarah and her family on her blog.

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