When starting your adoption journey, odds are you will have many questions. While the Internet can be a great resource, it can also be very overwhelming. I distinctly remember Googling “infant adoption” when we were beginning to think about adoption as a means of building our family and being mildly terrified by the sheer volume of results that search returned.
Many prospective adoptive parents have questions specifically about whether or not they qualify to adopt. While each type of adoption—international, domestic infant, and foster care—has its own requirements, there are some overall requirements that all prospective adoptive parents must meet. Generally, these serve to prove that you are fit to be a parent, or in other words, that you would not be an unsafe choice to parent an adopted child and that the child would be raised in a safe place with his or her needs met. Often people think in order to adopt you have to be perfect—like Ozzie and Harriet but with more money. That isn’t the case, and all kinds of people and families pursue adoption and are successful. One of the questions you may have is whether there are any educational requirements to adopt.
In terms of the prospective adoptive parents, there is not generally an educational requirement regarding what level of education you have completed. Most agencies generally only work with parents who are 25 and older, so odds are that most adoptive parents have, at minimum, completed high school. Some agencies may require that you be college educated, but this varies from agency to agency. If they do, it is because, generally, expectant mothers and birth parents tend to highly value education and want their child to have educational opportunities they might not be able to provide. If the adoptive parents are highly educated, they will place a high value on education for their children and may have access to more comprehensive educational resources.
In regards to any education adoptive parents may have to undergo in order to adopt, most agencies require prospective adoptive parents to complete some sort of training. Generally, this training helps them understand the adoption process and touches on some of the unique aspects of parenting an adopted child. If you are adopting transracially, you may be required to take specific courses on the nuances of parenting a child of a different race. Generally, these courses are fairly informal and either meet for a few hours in the evening or on weekends or are online trainings. Even if your agency does not require any specific training, it is in your best interest as a parent to be as educated and prepared as possible.
Just like pregnant women read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” adoptive parents as well should be reading books and seeking out education pertinent to the form of adoption they are pursuing. There are a variety of books and a plethora of online resources covering infant adoption and infant care, adoption of older children, and specific concerns for people adopting internationally. There are also a large number of online support groups of varying sizes for prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents. Facebook is a great place to start looking for those groups.
Julianna Mendelsohn lives in sunny South Florida where, odds are, it is hot enough right now that she’s sweating just a little, no matter what she’s doing. She is the brains, brawn, blood, sweat, and tears behind The Adoption Mentor and is thrilled to be able to help others build their families through adoption. She is a former elementary school teacher, current MS in school counseling student, Sephora junkie, and the momma via domestic adoption to one lovely daughter.