Adopting Amo – Part 6: Train the Parents in the Way They Should Go…

With Uncle Don, playing with stacking thingies. Day out at Monte – December 2009.

As I mentioned in my last post, there was now a process to be followed. Being fairly ignorant of adoption processes in general, we were quite surprised by some of these things. We appreciate them now and believe they are necessary but it was weird at first. Read on and tell me what you think.

As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to discuss these things with you. Go ahead and share this blog with anyone you think may appreciate or benefit from it.

This is the process we had to follow:

Step One – Four months of compulsory “Advanced Parenting Training”:
The training would need to be completed before we could meet any of their children. It seemed like a ton of training but it wasn’t actually that bad. The commitment was actually only one Saturday (6 to 8 hours) and one Tuesday evening a month for four months. So it was really only four days and four evenings, spread out nicely to make it a little more convenient.

We thought it was odd that we had to finish the training before we could spend time with the children. Being better-informed, we now appreciate it for a number of reasons.

  1. It protects the children.
  2. It tests the commitment of the adoptive parents.
  3. The social workers, who instruct the course, know they have invested positively into the lives of the potential parents, giving them the tools they need to be good moms and dads.
  4. It gives the social workers a good opportunity to spend time with and get to know the families wanting to adopt.
The philosophy of the training is this; successful parenting stands on two legs. One leg is training and the other is support. The support is formed out of the group of adoptive parents who attend the training with you. It is a well-conceived system that has been very successful. Their success rate is significantly higher than that of the global average. I asked Gert, who runs the home, if he had any stats he could share with me. This is what he gave me; globally, the average placement success rate is just 35%. Gert’s home, with their training/support system, has a placement success rate of 91%. It is difficult to believe that adopted children are ever returned, let alone that the occurrence is so high. It would seem that there is tremendous value in parents going through the training process, especially for the children.

I have since found it interesting that we have to get training and be licensed to drive a car, but we can have children at will. Imagine if, like driving a car,  you had to qualify before being allowed to have biological children. I expect Earth’s population would be much smaller. I strongly advise taking parenting training if it is offered. The training was so beneficial. We learned the basics of childhood development, general personality types and something of how to deal with the hurts that many of these children would have endured.

It was eye-opening. It was heart-breaking. It was necessary.

Step Two – Volunteer at the home:
Once the social workers are satisfied that your motives are good and that you have what it takes to be a good parent, they allow you to volunteer at the home. This is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to spend time with all the children, not just the child or demographic you are interested in. Even a little love and attention goes a long way for all the children. It is also great to see how the home operates, the facilities they provide and how the children interact with their care-givers. While emotionally taxing, these were very good times.

Step Three – Trust that God shows you the right child:
This was the home’s exact statement. Once we started to volunteer, that is what we did. We prayed into this specifically and earnestly on our way to volunteer that first day. As we spent time with the children we tried to be sensitive to what God was doing in our hearts. It was a little nerve-wracking. We were on the edge; between a place we didn’t want to leave and a place we wanted to go.

So finally, after all that’s been said and done, we meet Amo. But you’ll have to wait for the next article for that.

Prev: Adopting Amo – Poll: Do You Think…

Next: Adopting Amo – Part 7: Meet Amo

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16 thoughts on “Adopting Amo – Part 6: Train the Parents in the Way They Should Go…

  1. candy says:

    Suspense….love it 😉 this blog was very insightful Nick..always been interested in the adopting process…

  2. Feli says:

    I love the fact that you are so encouraging and positive about the process. I really respect the fact that, although you must have faced hardships and things that detracted from the process, you have never used your articles as a forum to become negative or complain. At the end of the article I’m left excited for the next!

    P.S. Every now and then I like to leave some comments for your comment section 😉

  3. Janet says:

    Aaahhh I have to wait, am so enjoying your story. What a privilege you have had to get training on parenthood. As parents of biological children (the Lord blessed and surprised us with 3) we were thrown in the deep end and no one can prepare you for what lies ahead. They try and to a great degree we ignore them. The blessing is to know the Lord and have His guidence in the process. I’m beginning to understand the real commitment you have to have to stick by this process to the end goal. Some parents out there just don’t have the same outlook on the job entrusted to them and how important and significant it is.

    • nick says:

      Very true, Janet. I think one of the keys is that one doesn’t go into the training expecting to know it all afterwards but rather to be informed as to what to expect. As the saying goes; forewarned is forearmed.

  4. Adele says:

    Nic don’t make us wait long, love this story of life xxxx

  5. Andre says:

    Nick, I was thinking…..which is rare….but, should the church think of starting “pre-parenting counselling” much like pre-marital counselling? I mean, at least you kinda know what to expect when you marry someone (you have spent time with them, know their likes and dislikes) and you still go for cousnelling, but when a kid comes along you might not even know how to change a nappy never mind knowing that holdng a baby upside down till they “fall asleep” isn’t a good idea!

    That was a side track of note. Back to your blog:
    Once again, thanks for being vulnerable and your much needed insights into this topic.

    I know it is not a business decision, but do adopt according to a pre-determined list? I know the super spiritual thing to do is pray and allow God to work His “magic”, but is it OK to have a list of thing you would like in a kid?

    • Andre says:

      Sorry, my question should read “I know it is not a business decision, but do you adopt according to a pre-determined list?

    • nick says:

      Hi Andre, those are good questions. Thanks for asking.

      Firstly, I think pre-parenting training is a great idea. I have been giving it some thought and I am exploring how we could do it. Stay tuned.

      Secondly, in a previous post I spoke about ‘parameters’. I said, “One of the things I have learned, when it comes to adoption, is that it is so important to operate within your parameters. Don’t be manipulated into doing something you don’t think you’re capable of.” While this would apply to things to that people would just find impossible (e.g. a child with a disability), I think it is good in some things to “step out of the boat”.

      You’ll see my little list in my next post (due to go live in the next few days) and how it ultimately proved void. My advice would be this. Go in with a list – it’ll be very hard not to have some idea of what you would prefer – but hold onto it loosely. Bring God into the decision and let Him work on your heart. I don’t think there is a formula to this, I think we find our way in and with God. The next couple of posts will give you some insight into what it was like for us.

      • Andre says:

        Hi Nick, keen and excited for the next post/update. Thank you for your reply.

        Last question (you can answer this at a later stage): from what you have experienced, when people know and understand the the situation faced in South Africa with regards to orphaned children (and have already adopted), do you think they have changed thier minds in wanting thier own child to that of adopting again?

      • nick says:

        Hello again, Andre. I want to make sure I understand your question. Are you asking if couples who have adopted ever decide to adopt again rather than have natural children?

  6. Andre says:

    Thats exactly my question……from your experiences with the adoption home, dealing with other parents who have adopted and maybe in your own journey, is adopting almost like Pringles – once you pop, you can’t stop. I am not making light of it, just making it clear.

    • nick says:

      I don’t think anyone would decide against natural children just because they think the need for adoptive families is so great. That seems quite extreme to me. I think God has placed in us a desire to “produce” offspring. Think of “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” (Gen 1:28). It’s almost like we desire natural children without thinking about it. In our circles, it’s the natural next step once you’re married. I’m sure you have fielded the “So… when are you gonna have kids?” question more than you would have liked. I would find it interesting if someone said they would rather not try for natural kids so they can focus on adopting.

      I would say that having natural children one of the biggest obstacles to adoption. So many people have said to me “We’ll look into adoption once we’ve had one or two of our own.” And I wonder if that’ll really happen. Not that I doubt their sincerity but starting a family is tough and it takes time to find balance. When balance is found it’s a beautiful thing. I think the prospect of adoption is unsettling and is probably a more difficult option once you have children.

      Of course it’s possible people don’t have a choice but to adopt if they want to have children. But I’ve never encountered anyone that has specifically decided against natural children in favour of adoption. I would never take that stand nor would I place that on anyone. As a Christian I would say go for it regarding natural children but also be open to God bringing someone else’s child into your family.

      Lastly, with any decision regarding children you would consider your circumstances. Understanding that along with some wise counsel, you should only attempt what is actually possible.

      That seems a lot so I hope that answers your question, thanks for asking.

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