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April 2008Vol. 9, No. 3Best Practice Standards in Adoptive Parent Preparation

Adoption professionals need sufficient training and education on the adoption process in order to fully prepare and support adoptive parents and families. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is tackling the issue of preparation for parents and adoption professionals through its Adoptive Parent Preparation Project. The focus of the initial phase is on the basic principles, key issues, methods, and content areas forming best practice standards regarding the preparation and education of adoptive parents, specifically in relation to meeting the mental health and developmental needs of adoptive children.

To assist in the development of effective curricula to educate and prepare adoptive parents, the Adoption Institute has issued a policy brief that offers the following general recommendations as a foundation for best practice guidelines:

  • More information about adoption and foster care should be incorporated into professionals' graduate training programs, and better continuing education opportunities should be developed.
  • Professionals should provide parent training/education both before and after the adoption; those who cannot offer such services themselves should provide appropriate referrals to their clients.
  • Professionals should provide a balanced, realistic view of adoption that focuses on appropriate skills and expectations generally, and on the unique needs of the child to be adopted in particular.
  • Because much of the current postadoption counseling comes through community-based mental health professionals, they should receive better training in areas related to adoption.

The policy brief also highlights the core beliefs and principles of parent preparation and education, obstacles to sufficient preparation, content areas and topics to include in parent education, and topics for specific types of families, including those who adopt from the child welfare system, from other countries, and across racial lines.

The second phase of the project will involve the development of a comprehensive set of curriculum modules for training adoptive parents on the mental health, developmental, and childrearing issues related to adoption.

The full policy brief, Adoptive Parent Preparation Project Phase I: Meeting the Mental Health and Developmental Needs of Adopted Children, written by David Brodzinksy, can be downloaded from the Adoption Institute website: