Once you have made a decision to adopt, contacted social services or another agency, and perhaps been to an initial meeting with other prospective adopters, you will most likely be asked to attend a fairly in-depth training course.
At this point you have not formally started the adoption process. This training course is used to provide you with a large amount of information about what it means to adopt, and more importantly, what children from different familial backgrounds may be experiencing at different stages of their life and journey to being adopted.
We attended a three-day training course with about 30-40 other people (some couples, some not) from several neighbouring counties, and run by an incredibly experienced trainer with vast amounts of experience as a social worker.
The course does not make up part of the official application process. Nonetheless, it is extremely useful, and is considered compulsory for all prospective adopters to attend.
The course is far from a walk in the park. It’s intensive, with a lot of information given, and much of that potentially quite harrowing to listen to. After all, we must always remember that adopted children have been taken from their birth families, generally as a last resort, because of severe neglect or abuse. On a training course such as this, it’s important to cover a wide variety of scenarios to help prepare adopters for the experience to come.
It’s important to remember that adoption can be extremely rewarding for both adopters and children, and many happy, healthy new family units are created as a result. However, it’s vital to know how children may have been affected by their experiences — experiences which for them are in fact ‘normal’ because they’ve known no different.
It is possible that these training sessions may alert you to the possibility that adoption is not for you. On the other hand, for many people — despite its intensity and difficult subject matter — it strengthens their desire to become adoptive parents.
The training doesn’t include examinations or tests to take, but it’s a very useful foundation to take forward to the one-to-one discussions which take place once the application has been submitted.
Once this training course is completed you are generally free to begin the official application process. Depending on the agency you are working with, you may already have had some forms to fill in. You may well be invited to another meeting where you can meet with other prospective adopters in your county, and perhaps meet people who have recently been through the entire adoption process and now have children placed with them.
It’s possible at this stage to begin feeling overwhelmed, so there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and assessing the situation. You don’t have to put in an application straight away. You will probably be assigned a social worker, or have a contact at a private adoption agency. Stay in communication with them and spend time talking things through with them. They may well be able to allay any fears or concerns you have and walk you through the next steps in the process.
The adoption process is fairly intense. Take your time and try to enjoy it.