Throughout the last 6 years, I have watched many of my friends and family experience the joy of becoming parents. Not even one, felt like they had it all together or knew what they were doing. The phrase I remember most, and to be honest dislike was, “You just can’t fully grasp what it is to be a parent until you are one”. And I knew it was true.
My career has been working with children, from teaching Sunday school to running after-school programs with at-risk youth to becoming a teacher and now a parent of children who have experienced trauma. It was and is my best career choice. I have a degree in psychology and a good portion of that degree are child development classes. I even studied and wrote papers on attachment theory in foster and adopted children. The list could go on and on of why I think I am so prepared for becoming a parent, especially an adoptive or foster parent. I’m sure all of those things were great things to do, but in the end they don’t actually matter. A person that did none of those things still would end up in the same, “You just can’t fully grasp what it is to be a parent until you are one” circumstance.
Our adoption agency knows that truth, and prepped us for it. Thankfully they did not just leave us there to ponder our inadequacies. They prepped us with great classes that gave us practical knowledge of what to do when you finally realize you know NOTHING. We took five classes and each class focused on something different.
The first class was orientation. It gave an introduction to our agency and what it means to foster/adopt from the foster care system. Helpful Hint: many people suggest going to multiple orientations for different agencies to see which one is the best fit for you. It is a very helpful class for understanding the basics of the process, feeling comfortable with the system, and shows if the agency is a good fit.
Next we took a safe sleep class. It focused on safe sleeping conditions, babies that have experienced drugs and alcohol in the womb, and shaken baby syndrome. The class was emotionally difficult to sit through, but helpful and informative…and just a
tiny bit repetitive. We also did a CPR and first aid class. Part of the class was online and part in person, like many CPR classes.
The other two classes were called Child Focused and Parent Focused training. I found these classes to be very helpful. We were given good information in the child focused class on how to treat and interact with children of trauma. Discipline and attachment were major areas of focus as well. It also gave us the perspective of a child going through the system, which is heartbreaking. In the parent focused training, we discussed the emotions we could experience and positive ways to deal with them.
One thing I did not expect to take away from this training was seeing things through the eyes of the biological parents. Creating compassion and understanding in a place where I honestly struggled to feel any. In both trainings we were able to discuss interracial adoption and the implication for children and families. It really gave us the opportunity to research and discuss how to best honor children from a different race or culture.
Overall the classes were extremely beneficial. Although they can seem long and sometimes repetitive, the information I walked away with was more helpful than anything else. It also was a great starting point for my own research in parenting children of trauma.
Once we finished the paperwork and classes, we only had one step left to becoming certified…the home study!