My husband and I have been approved for our home-study to adopt a child, however we still had one last requirement to meet before an adoption can be final - 16 hours of adoption education hours.   As excited as we are about adopting, spending 16 hours, over the weekend….the last “good weather” weekend before the snow hits, in class, did not sound appealing.  We went though, with an open mind, and left, with a changed heart, an enhanced perspective, and an encouraged spirit.

We learned about infant care, adoption expectations, attachment disorder, how to raise a healthy (physically, mentally, socially and spiritually) adopted child, and the adoption experience from the birth mothers perspective. 

When we first started the adoption process, we were very nervous about reactive attachment disorder, and the impact it would have on our child’s ability to attach to us and to others, and to be an overall healthy and successful individual. Due to the trauma a baby faces when leaving the birth mother’s womb, and never feeling that “feeling” again, hearing her voice, smelling her smell and sensing her presence, it can be difficult for a baby to attach to others.  (This does happen in non-adoption situations as well, where for whatever reason, the baby is not nurtured by their mom). The good news is, this can be healed at any age, and is easiest when the child is a newborn.  A great resource for healing attachment disorder if it takes place is:  http://reactiveattachmentdisordertreatment.com/ssi/checklist.html  

Another area we studied in this training is how to raise an overall healthy adopted child.  Every child has development criteria to meet, as well as milestones that require support from parents in order to develop in a successful way. When raising a child that has been adopted, additional support is required. A book that has been said to be educational on this area, and that was discussed in our training is: Being Adopted – The Life Long Search For Self by Brodzinsky, Schecter, and Henig. This book is action oriented and does not just discuss this topic, but gives application action items for each developmental stage.

In reference to learning about expectations, the biggest thing we learned is to view this process with the child first (well…and…. clear communication between you and your spouse, as well as the adoption agency).  This might not sound like rocket science, or that a child centered approach “should” be that way already, but it can be difficult when desiring a child so deeply, to not focus on your needs as well, on how having this child will meet you and your spouse’s needs of wanting to be a parent so badly! And how your parental desire needs, all you are missing out on, and life progression needs, are not being met.   We saw through the birth mother panel and the other educational information, that every step in the journey, from pre-home study certification to rearing the child, is about the baby….not the child and our needs, just the child…period.  My heart and my husband’s heart had a needed wake-up call in this area!

Yes, having a baby meets the immense desire to nurture and love a child…to be a family…to be a mom, but overall, it’s about this child now and forever. This involves giving the baby the right home (which can call for much patience as time passes for this right match to occur), learning the right tools to develop this baby in a healthy way, and having a perspective on the openness in the adoption process with the birth mom that is child centered, not you centered (or as I like to call it, fear centered…fear for the child to be taken back by the birth mom, to be too close to the birth mom, to be confused by this mom’s role, etc.).

This brings me to my next point, which I will talk about in a future post..it’s that involved and important.  Thinking about adopting the baby, from the baby centered perspective, forces you to look at the level of openness in the adoption process in a different way, at least it did for us and others at the training.  You still may come back to wanting a closed adoption, open, or semi-open adoption as you originally intended…but it opens doors to new viewpoints to explore….and what is the harm in that!

Some other great resources that I found in this training are:

Create a life book for your child: www.adoptionlifebooks.com

Read your children adoption books: www.tapestrybooks.com

Learn about positive adoption language: http://www.usaadoptions.com/positive.html

Subscribe to an adoption magazine or email newsletter: www.e-magazine.adoption.com