Pre-Parenthood Adoption Education Classes
Adoption STAR is known for its incredible adoption education program. Founded by an educator, Adoption STAR specializes in providing educational programming for everyone interested in adoption. Those exploring adoption will fall in love with the educational opportunities provided.
Pre-Parenthood Adoption Education classes are a mandatory requirement for registered clients of Adoption STAR. Adoption STAR prides itself on providing exemplary pre-adoption education since its inception. The curriculum is unique to the agency and has been created to meet the needs of children and those who become their forever families.
Pre-Parenthood Adoption Education will give you the opportunity to discover your own strengths, examine the influences in your life, and speculate and dream about your future. Not everyone has thought seriously about themselves as potential parents, specifically potential adoptive parents. Those who are parenting prior to joining Adoption STAR’s program find the educational component an opportunity to expand upon the tools they have already implemented.
Adoption STAR developed two special curricula, one known as Adoption is a Lifelong Process and ANCHOR. Depending upon the program selected, clients will be required to take either one of these training programs.
The ANCHOR Training Program: Attach • Nurture • Commit • Healing • Open-Mindedness • Resilience
The A-OK Educational Classes are called ANCHOR and are specific to those considering the adoption of a child or children waiting in the United States foster care system or adopted internationally. Attendees receive comprehensive adoption preparation tailored to the complex needs of foster youth. A-OK classes take place over the course of two weekend sessions (part A & B).
ANCHOR classes are unique to Adoption STAR. Learning objectives within each training segment are geared toward preparing participants to parent children with challenges, including behavioral issues, mental health concerns, and physical or cognitive impairments related to placement in foster care. Families exit classes better prepared to:
- Navigate connections with birth family members
- Build a support system for their child and family
- Understand the effect of trauma on child development
- Help children establish their identity and culture
- Understand the matching and transition process
- Learn the importance of self-care, and
- Build lasting connections with new and experienced adoptive families.
Most importantly, ANCHOR classes emphasize the importance of unconditional commitment in providing children stability to reach their full potential.
The following is an overview of each session’s content areas.
The ANCHOR Curriculum
Class 1: Welcome and Orientation
Class 2: Who are the A-OK Children?This class provides an introduction to the youth who are waiting to be adopted including: special needs, reasons for placement in foster care, the typical experience of a foster child, role of the custodial agency, and explanation of common terms such as termination or surrender of parental rights. Families are informed of the timeline of the A-OK program from training to finalization and the home study process is explained.
Class 3: Family Strengths and NeedsParticipants learn about the needs and strengths of waiting youth, their own family and how to build on strengths to meet needs.
Class 4: Grief and LossExplores impact of separation and loss on development and well-being of children. Families identify how their own experience of loss will help them meet the needs of their children.
Class 5: Adoption is a Lifelong CommitmentOnce matched; a family’s commitment to their adopted child should be unconditional, just as if the child came into their family by birth.
Class 6: Attachment and Stages of DevelopmentThis workshop is designed for pre-adoptive parents to understand developmental learning for an adoptive child. In addition, the workshop addresses issues of adoption in general, the impact of gaps in caring interventions as a child. The workshop also looks at some common behaviors connected to attachment disorder and interventions to help strengthen attachment.
Class 7: Family Culture, Family Origin and Impact of AdoptionDiscover the effect of adoption on the family and what the child and parents bring to the relationship. Families consider how their own family of origin and current family shapes their parenting styles and ability to meet the needs of a foster youth.
Class 8: Imaginary JourneyParticipants experience empathy for the loss, fear and uncertainty of a child who is separated from their birth family and brought into a new home.
Class 9: Birth FamiliesFamilies are informed of the importance of a child’s connections to people in their lives and how to honor these connections.
Class 10: Trauma and Crisis InterventionThis workshop helps families understand Trauma, potential behavioral manifestations as well as how being trauma informed and trauma sensitive can be important in parenting a child who is adopted at an older age beyond infancy.
Class 11: Child Identity and CultureAttendees will gain a better understanding of how a child’s culture and ethnic background impacts their identity and self-esteem.
Class 12: Child InterestParticipants will learn about the typical physical and mental health needs of foster youth and their families of origin that will be helpful in filling out their Grid of child risk factors that they are willing and able to consider.
Class 13: Managing BehaviorsFamilies will be equipped with attachment and trauma-informed tools to help youth heal by addressing root causes of behaviors.
Class 14: Disruption and Match ProcessFamilies are introduced to common causes of disruptions/dissolutions and given strategies to prevent them.
Class 15: ResourcesParticipants will consider the personal and agency resources available to help them manage stress an anxiety in their families built through adoption.
Class 16: Transition ProcessFamilies learn what to expect during adoption matching, visitation, placement and finalization.
Class 17: PanelA small group of adoptive families and their children will share their adoption journey with pre-adoptive families in a question and answer format.
Adoption is a Lifelong Process is utilized for those pursuing a domestic infant adoption and allows you to take a first look at the responsibilities of adoptive parenthood and the ways these responsibilities affect every aspect of your lifestyle. It introduces you to some basic principles of child development, and how you the parent, can begin sharing your child’s adoption story with them. Families are provided with the information and preparation necessary to assess communication, explore child development, understand the adoption process, as well as discussing the legal aspects related to adoption. Many of the skills learned in this curriculum are about feeling comfortable talking about adoption. These skills will be helpful in relationships with other people, not just with your child.
Talking about Adoption – Social, Emotional and Values DevelopmentThis class introduces the importance of developing a comfort level with “talking about adoption” with your significant other, family members, friends and most importantly, with the child you adopt. It also identifies when and how to communicate with your child about adoption based on their age and developmental level.
Child Interest – Considering Child ReferralsThis class explores what you need to know before you accept an adoption referral, and what questions you should ask when you hear about a birth mother or a child in need of adoption. The class educates you on what an Apgar score means and what might place a baby at risk for developing special needs. The class also explores alcohol and substance abuse as well as potential genetic issues that may be passed down by the birth family.
Open Adoption – Creating New RelationshipsThis class investigates the benefits of an open adoption and discusses how it affects birth families, adoptive families and adoptees. In addition, this class introduces the various levels of openness in adoption and helps to dispel the myths and fears often associated with the term.
Child Identity – Quality, Security and PermanencyThis class examines common identity issues with adoptees and includes a discussion of the issues related to adopting a child who looks different from his/her adoptive parents, even when the child is of the same race. It also explores adopting a child of a different race and/or culture domestically or internationally.
Adoption Law – Promoting EducationThis class is facilitated by a local adoption attorney affiliated with Adoption STAR. The attorney will explore the legal rights of adoptive parents and birth parents. Domestic, out of state and international adoption laws will be discussed.
Additional ClassesIn addition to the classes listed above, Adoption STAR provides a list of optional pre-adoption classes open to clients and the community-at-large. Some classes require a small fee, though most are free of charge. Below is a list of classes that Adoption STAR features or has featured.
Seeking Parenthood – Coping with Infertility:This class is for women and men who are experiencing (or have experienced) infertility. It offers an opportunity to gain awareness and understanding of your emotional reactions to infertility and to living in a fertile world. The class also provides an opportunity to explore the concept of resolution and life after infertility. This class is free of charge and open to anyone who has experienced recent diagnosis, fertility treatments, and/or pregnancy loss. You do not need to be a client of Adoption STAR to attend. Contact the agency for upcoming dates.
Coping with Infertility – You Are Not Alone:An eight-week professionally led series of classes for couples or individuals at any stage of infertility. The series will provide members with the opportunity to meet others who are experiencing infertility in a safe, supportive atmosphere. With the guidance of a psychologist, members will have the chance to share feelings, exchange ideas and information, learn coping strategies, and receive emotional support. There is a fee for this series. Contact the agency for more information.
Infertility Support Meeting:Families who have experienced infertility truly understand the rollercoaster of emotions that result. Adoption STAR recognizes that adoption “cures” being childless; it does not “cure” infertility. This support meeting will offer an opportunity to discuss your grief and receive support from others who have also experienced the pain of infertility.
Waiting Families Group:This group provides an opportunity for prospective adoptive families to receive support from one another during their wait to adopt. Families who have successfully adopted after “being in your shoes” will be invited to share their journey in adoption and to offer tips for surviving the wait.
Baby Care Class: Caring for Your Baby:Facilitated by a pediatric Physician’s Assistant, this class focuses on newborn care and is geared specifically to the waiting adoptive parent. This class walks you through diapering, bathing, feeding, etc. Though baby care classes are offered elsewhere, none focus on the uniqueness of adoptive parenthood. Adoption STAR has prepared a baby care manual and a class especially for you – the adoptive parent.
Exploring Your Adoption Options:This class provides information on many adoption options in addition to the agency’s traditional adoption program. Information on international adoption, older child adoption, and other domestic adoption avenues including the agency-assisted private adoption track is provided. Open to clients and non-clients of the agency.
Adoption Forum: Getting Your Family Involved in Your Adoption Journey:This class is for our clients who have finished the home study classes. You are invited to bring one or more family member and/or friends with you to learn more about adoption. Now the important people in your life will be introduced to many of the subjects you have already learned about! A panel of adoption professionals will introduce the process that you have gone through to receive a home study, including the classes. The panel will address questions from your family members and friends.
For Adoptive Father’s Only:Men and women handle stress, adoption and parenthood differently. This men-only workshop will seriously and with humor address the gender differences while adopting and parenting.
Post Adoption education is an integral ingredient for healthy adoptive parents. The adoptee grows from childhood to adulthood and the adoptive parent grows from each parenting experience. The years and growth occurring will see great milestones and possibly intense challenges. Parenting itself is a challenge, when adding adoption issues, parents today will find themselves with many bumps in the road, as will our children. By participating in post adoption education and support you are routing your family on a more positive journey.
The following are a list of just some of the class topics that Adoption STAR features or has featured. Not all classes are offered annually as some are initiated based on need and requests. A few classes require a small fee, while most classes are offered at no cost to clients and non-clients of Adoption STAR.
Raising the Adopted Child:
This class will highlight how to talk to your child about adoption, developing an “adoption friendly” support network and addressing the special developmental needs of the adopted child and the adoptive family.
Financial Planning for the Adoptive Family:
This class is facilitated by adoptive parents who are a financial advisor, accountant and tax attorney. They will introduce applying for the adoption tax credit, other adoption benefits, and financial planning for your family’s future.
African American Hair and Skin Care Class:
This popular class is geared to parents raising African American and Biracial children and facilitated by hair care professionals who provide hands-on demonstrations to care for children’s hair and skin.
Transracial Adoption Panel:
This class will feature members of the adoption triad discussing and answering questions regarding transracial and transcultural adoption.
Growing In Your Transracial Adoption:
This interactive workshop will address common questions and concerns and provide ideas for how to grow a healthy transracial family in our society.
Growing in Your Open Adoption:
This class will focus on developing a positive relationship over time with your child’s birth parents. Topics will include how to talk with your child about their birth parents and how to effectively address issues that may arise.
Growing in Your Adoption of a Child with Special Needs:
This class will feature special needs professionals and parents of children with special needs and will help you learn to navigate the special needs system, including but not limited to medical care, special education, and other support services. The class will also deal with the emotions in finding out and raising a child with special needs.
What We Have Learned So Far: Panel of Adoptive Parents Of School-Age Children Speak To New and Waiting Adoptive Parents:
This workshop will feature adoptive parents who will address how adoption has changed their family and their lives. From dealing with unexpected comments to bonding to everyday parenting, this interactive workshop should not be missed. The evening will also focus on the developmental and cognitive spectrum adopted children go through.
Raising An Only Child: Should We or Shouldn’t We?
This workshop is for families who are raising an only child as well as those considering raising an only child. The interactive workshop will feature a panel of parents who strongly believe in the positives of raising one child and those who chose to raise more than one child. The workshop will also address the pros and cons of considering adopting again. Fee is $5.00 per family.
Telling Your Child Their Birth Story:
This class provides information on sharing your child’s adoption story with them. It will provide advice on how to address difficult to share birth family background information as well as how to answer your growing child’s questions about adoption.