Parent training

Finally finished our first online course in parent education. We have to complete 18 hours of parent training before we can get a little sprout of our own. Training comes in a variety of ways--seminars, online courses, books, etc.

Our agency gives us some recommended courses, but is pretty lenient about allowing us choose whatever we think will be helpful. The course we took was at BGCenter Online School and the course name was "SJM1-The reality of parenting an internationally adopted child under 3."

It sounded like just  the class for us and we were pretty excited about it. But unfortunately, we were quite frustrated with several things about the course.

First, the course interactive design was really poor. I'm not expecting a super slick deluxe presentation, but a little thought put into how people move through the course isn't too much to ask. There is a course outline, so you'd think you could click on the section you need to work on and go there, right? Wrong. Each time you work a section you have to use the back arrow on your browser to return the main page.

Second, the presentation consisted of text. A LOT of text. And for goodness knows what reason, they often used a colored font, or used white font on a colored background. Not a friendly way to present a lot of reading material. It was such tedious reading that The Man and I took turns reading it aloud so one person could give their eyes a break.

Third, there were spelling, syntax and punctuation errors. That's plain annoying. Add to that mix, the fact that they use the most ridiculous run-on sentences I've ever seen. Here's an example:

Along with this observation regarding the powerful drive to be an individual is the belief by observers that some form of lifelong dependence on "mother" is also a universal truth of human existence, even if this dependence is only experienced internally or is carried out externally by showing the world that one is never dependent on mother of anyone else for that matter.


Ok...so there's all those reasons why the course was freaking annoying. But there is a much more substantial reason why I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It's all about this paragraph, which they use in the summary of every section. After enduring long tedious readings on all the stages of the baby's life  about prenatal, birth, and growth stages for non-adopted children, their advice to adoptive parents is always the same:
Here is what you can expect a normally developing child to be doing by age three months. Due to many issues typical for "unwanted" children residing in orphanages and discussed in the class, you can't expect them to pass all the milestones on the same schedule as a normally developing baby - developmental delays are very common. You should be concerned in these situations and call your local Early Intervention Program.

This is their key advice? Call in a professional?! We are slogging through all this stuff about how critical the bond is between biological mom and baby (which makes me feel like there's no way I can succeed, by the way) and their parenting suggestion to me is to "call your local early intervention program"?

And what about the word "unwanted". When The Man and I saw this for the first time, we let out an audible gasp.

We were shocked that this is the language of "the professionals". They are accountable for teaching future adoptive parents to think about the stereotypes and beliefs that are connected with adopted children. They are responsible for teaching us NOT to make assumptions, and how damaging labels can be. I know they used the term in quotes, but the fact is, they are still describing these kids as unwanted.

The truth is, we have no idea whether that child was wanted or not. All most of us know is that the birth mother felt she could not care for the child for one reason or another, perhaps financially, or emotionally, but we do not know if they were unwanted. They didn't believe they could RAISE them, but that's a very different thing than not being wanted.

They use the term so casually. As if the decision to let someone else care for a child was easy. And I'm quite sure it wasn't an easy decision for most women.

And then extend out the implications of being described as unwanted. What kind of self identity crisis are you setting your child up for when you refer to him in this way, because that's how the experts referred to them so it must be OK to use this term.

Adopted kids usually wrestle with the very difficult question of why they were placed for adoption. They need to come to grips with that on their own terms, and try to understand it as best as they can. Calling them unwanted seems to put a simplistic and dark story together for them---you weren't wanted and we rescued you. They didn't want you. We did.

We know it's not that simple.

I don't know...am I being ultra sensitive here? I realize it's just a word. But it's a huge one.

There were a few other annoyances in the program--they assume that everyone adopting has gone down the infertility road and/or adoption is a second option for building a family. If you read this blog often, you know how I feel about that stereotype.

And they just plain didn't give a lot of information that was specific to the developemtn of an adopted child, other than to say they can or are usually developmentally delayed. Without those details, we might as well have been reading any book about child development.

Fortunately for us, we have a choice of other parenting courses, and we don't have to take another from this place. And I guess it was educational in a way. The Man and I had many long conversations about this topic, so in that respect, it did further our parent training.

But it still pisses me off.


  1. I HATED this class too. I found it so bad that I didn't even have DH waste his time on it. (he did them after me.) I was appalled by all the same things you were. we used another website for the others that was so much more helpful. I can't recall that website off hand though, since I'm not at home at the moment.

    I hope the rest are better for you guys.

  2. I am just as horrified as you are. That word should NOT be used, especially by "professionals."

    We're in the midst of our online courses, too, from a different organization. Some are interesting and have provoked good discussion; others are incredibly tedious and don't apply to us--concerning adopting older children, the effects of institutional care, adopting siblings. It's a bit frustrating having to spend time on these subjects, since the education process overall is so time-consuming. And it's scary to read about a lot of developmental and emotional things that (hopefully) won't apply to our family, since we're not adopting a four-year-old from an orphanage.

    I really wish there was an education program specific to Korean adoption, or at least to adopting very young children that have been in foster homes.

  3. Oh good. I'm not completely off my rocker. I agree with you Amy--too bad there aren't more specific trainings out there instead of the one-size-fits-all approach. We know that just isn't true.

    If anyone knows of some good online trainings (or others in the Milwaukee area) please let us know!

  4. Wow, I can't believe that---how awful! You would think there would be a bit more vetting of content (not to mention grammar!) before making this stuff live. Kind of makes me glad our agency insists on in-person classes for the parent education. Hope the rest of your classes are better than this one!

  5. Wow... I was going to comment that it's impressive how much education you are getting. But if that's the sort of education they're mandating, then I'm not sure that's a good thing at all. What about potential adopters who DON'T know enough to question these things? They're certainly doing nothing for perpetuating negative stereotypes about adoption. :(

  6. Terrible! How are these babies not wanted? Their birth mothers wanted them enough to not abort and then make a very tough decision on the best life for their child even if it means not being raised by them... besides being wanted by their final family from before they were even born as well as all the love care agencies and foster families provide. Sheesh.

    My agency had me do this one: https://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/conspicuous_families.cfm and I liked it from what I remember. We also did one on attachement by them and 'finding the missing pieces'. From what I remember, they weren't tedious and had different scenarios to look at: foster, orphanage, older child, baby, etc


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