How Not to Host An Adoption Baby Care Class
We attended an adoption baby care class, offered by our local health department.
We had expectations of an evening focused on baby care. We figured it would be like a normal baby care class, except it would skip the stuff about pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I imagined writing about how much fun we had. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a fun evening out with Mr. MPB. I pictured learning a thing or two since I took my babysitter course when I was 12 years old (many more moons ago then I’d like to count). I also pictured watching Mr. MPB swaddle a baby and admiring how cute he is. And I imagined watching Mr. MPB and dreaming about how great he will be with our child.
Instead today I will share a How Not To Host An Adoptive Baby Care Class:
- Do not force attendees to sign up with an expected baby “due date”. The nature of adoption means that most of us do not have an expected due date. In fact, no-one in our class had an expected due date! I complained, I was ignored.
- Do not give adoptive parents the exact same book as normal parents that focuses on breast is best. Maybe remove that third of the book. Maybe print two versions which is inclusive and respectful of all parents.
- Do not remind us about what we cannot do but so desperately wish we could (i.e. breastfeeding). And, while you are at it, do not make us feel like we are not normal. And even more importantly, do not chastise us for our differences. No-one in that room was comfortable during the conversation. Instead embrace and encourage our decision to adopt.
- Do not skim over bottle sanitization and other options because breast is best (as per point 2 and 3). A bottle is the only way our child will eat, it seems like something we should know about.
- Do not tell us it’s too hard to practice swaddling on dolls and just skim over it and tell us we’ll figure it out at the hospital when the baby is born. Ummm…some adoptive parents might not meet their child at the hospital and may not have nurses there to teach them these things.
- Do not expect me to sign up for future parenting classes after you made me feel awkward all night. I have no desire to attend a class about transitioning to solid foods or a class on baby playtime after that experience. First impressions last a life time.
Needless to say, I was rather disappointed. It felt like the focus was constantly on how we are not normal, how we will not be doing the same things as regular parents. No parent, adoptive or not, does not need to spend 3 hours being reminded of how they are different. I firmly believe in celebrating difference, no matter what the difference is and I just wish our instructor and health department felt the same way.
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