Whether you’re exploring foster care, foster to adopt, private adoption, or international adoption, you should plan on taking the time to educate yourself not just on the process of adoption, but what the act of adoption and post-adoption will mean for you and your child. And while you may feel as though you’ve already researched your heart out and are ready to get started, most states as well as the international adoption governing body, (aka The Hague Convention), would beg to differ, and have set in place required training and/or classes, sometimes referred to as pre-service training, which must be completed before you will be considered eligible to adopt. This education requirement is not intended to further confuse the already cumbersome adoption process, but rather to prepare you to have a better understanding of what your new child may have already experienced and how to best integrate him into your family, your community, and in some cases, your country. Pre-service training often opens doors connecting other waiting families who are in the process becoming foster parents, or adopting through foster or privately, to meet (in person or online) and share their experiences.

Foster Parenting or Foster to Adopt

The process of training to become a foster parent or to adopt from foster care varies by state. According to Child Welfare prospective parents must complete family preparation offered by the department in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“States are increasingly moving toward what is referred to as a ‘dual licensing’ process, meaning that parents are approved to both foster and adopt. Dual licensing acknowledges the need for foster parents, streamlines procedures, avoids delays, and recognizes that the majority of children adopted from child welfare are adopted by their foster parents. It also benefits parents and children in many ways. Parents gain experience parenting, especially parenting children who have experienced trauma, children make fewer moves, and the family begins to bond.”

For example, one such foster parent training program requires prospective foster parents to attend a 30-hour Model Approach to Partnerships and Parenting (MAPP) training. Introduced in 1986, MAPP began as a model program for the preparation and selection of foster and adoptive parents.

Pre-service training programs typically take from four to 10 sessions to complete.

Private Adoption

Home studies for private adoption vary by state, with some requiring adoptive parents to attend an orientation and either in-person or online training class(es) for a specified number of hours. Other states will allow you to fulfill this training at your home. Adoptive parents pursuing private adoption should consult your adoption facilitator or attorney.

International Adoption

Just as training for foster and private adoption can vary from state to state, it can also vary from country to country. According to the United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, per The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: A Guide for Prospective Adoptive Parents — Training of Prospective Adoptive Parents, “The accreditation regulations specify that the primary provider must offer at least 10 hours of training (independent of the home study) to prospective adoptive parents before they travel to the country of origin to adopt the child, or before the child is placed with the family for adoption. The goal of this regulation is to promote a successful Convention intercountry adoption. Such mandatory training addresses a wide range of topics, including the intercountry adoption process, developmental risk factors associated with children from the expected country of origin, and attachment disorders. The training also prepares you for the adoption of a particular child, when possible. Adoption service providers record the final nature and extent of the training in the adoption records.”

Just as with private adoption, adoptive parents pursuing international adoption should consult with your adoption facilitator or attorney.

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