It wasn’t too long ago we were all blasting Alice Cooper’s School’s Out as we drove away from the last day of school. Big plans for summertime adventures and family bonding took over our calendars and minds. School is necessary (private, public, homeschool, etc.) but there is a distinct freedom that accompanies that final bell ring
“no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…”. What Mr. Cooper failed to realize in writing that song is the eternal impact of education. School may end for the summer, and eventually graduation comes, and school is out forever; but that doesn’t mean learning ends. And adoption education in an unending journey for the adoptive family.
This summer my children learned a lot about horticulture and botany; they learned about insects and life cycles, they learned about treating others with kindness. Learning and schooling are very different things. Sometimes, they intersect. But for most of us, our greatest learning comes after the bell rings or the tassel flies through the air as we hold our diplomas with pride.
Adoption Education Is A Journey Not A Destination
Since 1852, our country has had compulsory education laws stating that from ages 6-16 we all must be students. But, there is no law that states we all must learn. Former senator William Crawford once said, “Being a student is easy. Learning requires actual work”. So, lets do the work.
What does continued education have to do with being an adoptive parent? Well, everything. No one is born knowing how to be a parent; most of us learn from the physical example of our parents, aunts, uncles, and friends. We read parenting books, the Bible, parenting blogs, and listen to podcasts. Parenting is ever evolving. No one parents in 2023 the way their great grandparents were parented in 1923. Our world is ever changing, and with this change comes new research and studies that drive the parenting movements of our generations.
You may consider yourself a “gentle parent” or a “crunchy parent”, the “modern parent” or “the old-school parent”; there are authoritative parents, permissive parents and helicopter parents. Whatever style of parenting you do, you’ve learned it from somewhere, and I’m certain it wasn’t sitting at a desk while a professor lectured you with a 40 slide PowerPoint.
Our journey as adoptive parents pushes us to be a student of our child. To be persistent in our commitment to learn with them, for them, and to educate others because of them. We learn new things about adoption every day. This is why there are shifts and eras in the adoption history of the United States. As adoptees become adults and have a platform to share their stories, thoughts, ideas, and voices; the adoption community and the way we do adoption changes. This is why we no longer have orphan trains or the baby scoops, why we learn new terminology and cast aside the hurtful words like “gave up” or “gave away”.
Adoption Education Will For The Better (We Pray)
Most agencies today are listening to the voices of adoptees and pushing for open adoptions as they move forward. It is our job as adoptive parents to listen to this plea from past generations and encourage openness in our child’s life. Regardless of your parenting style, you are an adoptive parent and that means you are parenting within the realm of trauma. Trauma exists in every adoption. So, as our children grow we adapt by studying them and listening to them, making sure they have the space and tools necessary to express and cope with their trauma. What you learn today may make a huge difference for your child a week from now or maybe a year from now.
A huge mistake that we can make in our adoption journey is thinking that finalization means the end of our adoption education. Friends, finalization is just the beginning. We need to read, listen, research, and lean into the voices of those who’ve been there before us. Maya Angelou once said; “When you know better, you do better”. So let’s know better by learning better.
It has been said that ‘Experience makes the best teacher’, and this is true- if you consider whom the experience is from. We can be the change to this generation of adoptees. But we can only do so if we are willing to sit down, open our ears and our hearts and be ready to listen to the experiences that birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents who’ve gone before us have for us. Putting aside our pride and throwing out the stopwatch and checklists of the “required adoption education” we all have to face in the home study process of our adoptions is the only way we will learn.
We Learn To Be Better, Not Just Pass A Test
If your goal in adoption education is to meet the requirement, or hit the hours, or pass the home study then your goal isn’t even on the same playing field as adoptees and birthmoms. Adoptees and birthmoms don’t care if you hit your mandatory hours, they care that you are listening, learning, and advocating as part of your lifelong commitment to adoption. Anyone can watch a video or take a class, but not everyone can learn from those things. It is up to you to put in the work of learning.
School is back in session. Our children are learning something new every day. It is our turn to pick up our notebooks, lay aside our pride, and learn something new about adoption today.
If you would like some resources on how to continue your adoption education, or to just get a better one before you adopt, contact us today for information on our Adoptive Parent Coaching Sessions.