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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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83 Comments on “How Not to Host An Adoption Baby Care Class

  1. Sometimes health officials or these guys who run such sessions have their heads in the wrong place. I am sorry you had such a bad experience, maybe you can ask your social worker or agency to recommend classes for adoptive parents.
    The morons who run such classes need to be publicly shamed. Nonsense.

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    • This class was actually recommended by our adoption agency! I suspect no-one from the agency actually attended it, so they had no idea what it was like. And it’s entirely possible we just had a bad instructor, and the class is normally much better. Either way, I know we wont be going back to them for future classes.

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  2. Ugh that sounds horrible. I now my county offers since basic infant safety courses for all parents. They were created to train foster parents but are open to the public for a nominal fee. Because they were created for foster parents breastfeeding probably isn’t mentioned at all as foster parents aren’t allowed to breastfeed foster infants. I don’t know if your area had similar offerings.

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    • I think your country has the right idea! I think it’s great that they’ve taken a course for foster parents and opened it up to the public. And in fact, I really just like that it’s called basic infant safety course, because really, that’s what we needed. It shouldn’t be “adoptive” parent vs. “normal” parent, just parenting. I think my country can learn a thing or two from yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just at the county level, not sure what the rest of my state or the rest of the US does.

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  3. This really pisses me off. I am so sorry you had to go through that crap. I am happy to FaceTime with you and teach you swaddling and answer any questions I can. But I don’t think it is necessarily just learning the fundamentals that you were sad to miss- it is yet another milestone that was messed up for you. So unfair. The only thing I can say is once you have that baby in your arms- I have every hope that all of this crap will melt away and you will have the same joys and struggles as every new parent. But even better you will have the gratitude and perspective many lack. Hugs to you. Oh and one more thing– many of my friends and family did not breast feed and their babies are perfect. Enough with the breast is best crap. It is like a weird shaming campaign for new Moms- as if having a newborn is not hard enough. I am sorry you won’t experience it simply because you want to but I can assure you formula is just fine and there are in fact many benefits to it. Xoxoxo

    Liked by 4 people

    • Awe, thanks so much for the offer! I suspect at some point I may be running to you and other mom’s to give me the advice that I need!
      And I think you nailed it, the frustration isn’t so much about the fundamentals of baby care, it’s about missing yet another milestone on our path to becoming parents. It was a simple evening that should have been fun, and instead we sat there silently frustrated. These are supposed to be the simple things, and it would be nice if for once a simple thing could actually be simple. Maybe this means once we actually have a child it will be simple? (haha, ya right, as if parenting will ever be simple) 🙂
      I completely agree with you about breast is best being crap. We, as society, need to change our language and offer love to those who do not breast feed whether by choice or necessity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. 2015 and this is how adoptive parents are treated?! I can’t believe it. I’m really sorry that it wasn’t the experience that you were looking forward to xx

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    • Yes, it was pretty terrible! But, we survived and now know that we will look elsewhere for future classes. In fact, I was just looking at our local library and they offer some baby and parenting classes that we can attend once baby is here. I though they looked great. 🙂
      We did fill out the survey at the end of the class. And one day we will probably write a letter, but not until we are through with all this adoption stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh dear. Knowing all you’ve gone through the thought of you (and anyone else for that matter) having to hear that “breast is best” drivel made me cringe.

    More proof that this is a fertile world and we’re just living in it. This needs to change.

    Although I wasn’t there and am not able to take the adoption path myself, I feel you have important things to say on this issue. When and if you have the energy (I know if it were me I’d need a SIGNIFICANT cooling off period!!), or on some other occasion, maybe you can keep speaking out on this. Maybe the people in charge of the class need to see this post……..Maybe you’ll end up running classes like these one day………

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    • You are right, the fertile world needs to change. They need to be more accommodating, loving and compassionate to those of us who live outside the mold. And seriously, there is no excuse for a class put on by our medical department. They should be doing better.
      And yes, I do agree that at some point we need to speak out stronger about all of this. I hope once our adoption is finalized I can speak louder, and advocate for change for those who are just starting the process.

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  6. That’s awful! You should print this out and mail it to someone in charge. They should do better. No excuses.

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  7. This sounds like a nightmare. Maybe in future years you could develop a curriculum for this type of class – either through a parenting group, hospital, county, etc.

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    • It was definitely less then ideal, but we survived and I know where I will not be returning for any sort of parenting class and I’ve begun looking into new options like the local library. 🙂

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  8. That sounds horrible! So sorry you had to sit through that.

    I’ve often thought that there should be some sort of parenting class specific to those who have struggled with infertility/RPL/etc (though one would think an adoption class would take that possibility into account – yikes). There are some issues that go along with all that, both emotional and physical. I had a preemie and thanks to that plus the hormone disturbances of my particular PCOS situation, physically couldn’t breastfeed. I made that clear to multiple pediatricians/neonatologists along the way, but no one bothered to talk to me about the proper way to mix formula (apparently, was supposed to be using distilled or boiled water to mix it…yep, messed that up) or sterilize bottles. And I still got lectured about breastfeeding being best by a number of people, which was SO frustrating as I’d wanted to breastfeed badly and the fact that I couldn’t was another sort of loss.

    It’s great that you’re speaking out on this subject. Very important.

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    • I am so sad that you encountered the same breast is best crap when you body simply couldn’t do it and that no-one gave you the resources you needed. I hate that women like you and I are made to feel like we aren’t good enough if we formula feed. Sometimes I would just love to say to judgmental people – its formula or starvation, it’s that simple. Then maybe they’d understand that this is reality and back off.
      Thank you so much for sharing you experience, It just goes to show how education is so important, and that those of us who cannot/do not breastfeed still need to learn how to feed our children. There are lactation consultants who help breastfeeding mothers, shouldn’t there be something similar for formula mothers?
      P.S. thanks for the tips re water!

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  9. I hope you plan to write a letter to the health board? The pen is mightier than the sword…and the face to face complaints too. Hopefully your words will reach someone who can make a change to the curriculum.

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    • We’ve both complained independently and submitted the survey at the end of class honestly. And we’ve decided to keep our mouths shut until our adoption is done, then the formal written complain will be submitted.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I just don’t get it. Don’t the instructors know a lot of people planning to adopt would like to do those things (meet baby at hospital, breast feed) and can’t? It should be an encouraging environment where they recognize the differences and have compassion and respect for adoptive parents. You’re doing an incredible thing for yourselves and the world, and you’re not doing it to be altruistic, you’re doing it because it’s the only way you can become parents. I’m so sorry you had to go through this… Again.

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    • You are thinking the exact same way as I am. The environment should be encouraging and compassionate – regardless of the individual differences. Adoption is a great thing and an amazing way for families like ours to grow. And, really, people running these types of courses should get that!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. And I know I say this a lot but the two people I admire most – my mom and my partner, who is adopted – were not breast fed and they’re two of the most healthy and well-adjusted people I know!

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    • Ya, breast feeding is great, when it works. But it’s not a necessity, and so many wonderful people are just fine with formula. Society needs to stop shaming mothers who formula feed whether by choice or necessity.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. It sounds like they didn’t even change the course content to accommodate adoptive parents? That’s ridiculous! What a waste of time and money.

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    • I don’t think they made a single change to the content, even though it was a course specifically for waiting adoptive parents. Which made it frustrating for us, and an absolute waste of our money! (thankfully it wasn’t too expensive)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. wtf?! I am incredulous on your behalf! That makes me so mad. They seriously talked about breast is best?! Just wtf. Is there no end to the crap you have to go through on this journey? You can skype me anytime and I will show you how to swaddle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awe, thanks so much! I’m pretty sure we’ll figure out the swaddling thing, but honestly, don’t be surprised if you get a call one day for something like that. 🙂

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  14. Wow. Wow. Wow. I really hope you send a note to the place who put the class on voicing your feedback. Where is the logic and common sense in today’s society? Seriously!

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  15. That’s awful. I would definitely voice a formal complaint about that to whoever may be in charge. I don’t understand the point, if they just skimmed over the stuff you needed and told you how different you all are!?!? Absolutely ridiculous! I’m sorry you all had to go through that!

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    • Thank you Amy. I agree, I don’t know what the point was of telling us that we are different. Thanks, we know that! And unless you want to talk about our difference in a positive light or even just a constructive manner, I’m really not interested. I feel like some days I should print that on a sign and wear it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow this sounds so ridiculous. Who put this on??? Yeah what a waste of time. You can better figure things out yourself than attend one of these classes.

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    • Our local health department, you know, the ones who are meant to support new parents and babies in terms of their emotional and physical well-being. And I happen to agree with you, we will do better on our own then with this type of advice!

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  17. Oh jeez, this was an actual official class?! Run by whom?
    I’m sorry it was crappy – are there any recommended alternatives that you could go to that aren’t run by monkeys?

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    • Ya, it was a real class, meant specifically for waiting adoptive parents, put on by our local health department that is responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of parents and children. They seemed to have missed the mark entirely on this one!
      They offer other classes for babies and parents, but we will not go back to them. Instead, I’ve started searching for other classes and I’ve found some at our local library and local rec center. I’ll give them a try next. 🙂

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  18. Oh that is hideous. If you have the energy for it maybe write them a letter? Or print your blog post off and post it. Someone needs to complain as that is just so awful! Why did they even bother???

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    • We will absolutely write them a letter, at some point when we don’t need them. Until then, I’d rather not find myself in a big issue that could impact our future family. That said, we did fill out the survey at the end of the night honestly, so we have at least said something.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What a terrible class! I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Especially after anticipating making good memories with your husband through the class. What a letdown. It sounds like they had no clue how to structure a class for adoptive parents-to-be.

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    • Yup, it was definitely a let down. But I have taken the time to investigate other possible baby and mommy classes now that I know I wont go back to them. And, I’ve found a few at our local library and nearby rec centre, they even have baby and daddy classes which I thought was so cute. So, hopefully one of those providers will be better for us in the future.

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  20. Wow, what sounds terrible. I would be writing a very pointed letter to whoever is in charge of this class and let them know exactly what you think! It seems like they forgot one of the number one rules of presenting – know your audience! Awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That sounds like a terrible waste of time and I’m sorry you had to go through that! And swaddling a doll is not a waste of time. They did it in my class and everyone practiced. They just sound lazy and clueless!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is so disappointing. I think we live in the same city and I was really looking forward to this class. You would think since they made it specifically for adoptive parents that the facilitator would have some compassion and tact. Did you provide the organizer with any feedback about your experience?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Omg that sounds awful. We adopted Bumbi at 4 months with no nurses around to give us any training. I would have ran out screaming if I had gone to a class like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. AAAAAAH! What a load of b0llocks! WTF? And other British swearing. (Arwen will help!)

    Look, I promise you… I am adopted, my partner is adopted, my sibling is adopted. We weren’t breastfed and we are fine. More to the point, my two bio siblings weren’t breastfed for very long either (my mum had difficulty doing it) and they are also fine. It is all very well promoting breastfeeding (I get that it’s convenient and cheap) but if you can’t/are unlikely to be able to do it then why bother pushing it as a solution?

    Also, I’m so deeply disappointed for you. Because you know what? Someone needs to recognise that adoption is *not* a poor second choice to building a family. Yes, it is a decision that’s borne out of sadness in some senses, but it is also a joyous occasion for the brand new family when it happens. A child who doesn’t have a parent who can look after them gets a new forever family.

    I would like to think that an ideal adoption class would plug into this joy. That they’d be saying “Very soon you will be reaching the end of this difficult and lengthy journey and starting a new era in all of your lives! Rejoice!” I mean, that is frickin’ *wonderful* and so they should be focusing on all the awesomeness of becoming sudden-parents! Like how to hold a baby and look after a baby who may not be a newborn. How to care for an older child. How to introduce them to your family… Success stories and so on. Meet other adopting parents just like pregnant parents meet other parents with babies due around the same time at an antenatal class.

    That’s what I’d expect from an adoption class. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I would draw a line (and come back to it later and write a scathing complaint letter when you are busy being a super mum to your kiddy!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I’m pretty much over the whole breastfeeding thing, but at the same time I don’t think it’s something I need to have thrown in my face at an adoption parenting course!
      And I agree with you about what to expect from an adoption parenting class. Hopefully that’s the type of class that others get to experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well if it’s any consolation, my folks had nothing! They said they were completely unprepared to be in charge of a baby! I guess that is the same in a lot of instances whether you’re adopting or giving birth. I am glad that there is an acknowledgment that new parents need help and encouragement, but the way they do it really needs to improve!

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  25. That’s just plain weird. (Not to mention hurtful, insensitive, and idiotic.) I wonder if that kind of thing is just the nature of these classes. Very few people I know took a class like this (baby care/breastfeeding/childbirth/etc.) that was actually good. In that sense, you and Mr. MPB are exactly like “normal” parents!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow, that’s so ridiculous! I’d kick up a storm at the health department. By the way, no matter how many times the nurses showed us how to swaddle, we could never do it properly. We loved our Halo swaddle sack!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I am behind on reading blogs. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience. 😦 I hope that you gave them feedback so this doesn’t keep happening! Hugs!

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  28. I’m so sorry your experience was not good. That is appalling. Utterly appalling. I’m sorry but whomever sanctioned that course, and whomever taught that course needs to be strung up by their heels and beaten. Repeatedly. How dare they do and say those things??? I have read blogs of people who managed to breastfeed their adopted infant but from my understanding it’s about as rare as rocking horse sh**. Also, what if you’re not adopting a newborn? So many what ifs!!! I certainly understand why you were disappointed and if I were you I’d be asking for my money back. Everyone who,attended. Because that was a disgraceful demonstration of the negligent attitude towards intended parents via adoption. :(.

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