Member log in

Forgot your password? | Not a member? Join now

What is the preparation course

All potential adoptive parents must attend the preparation course that is held at Inter-country Adoption Centre in Barnet or by your local authority or at one of the voluntary agencies.

After you have made a formal application to adopt then you will be sent on a Preparation Course. This course prepares you for becoming a adoptive parent to a child from overseas. It does not prepare you for the complex process.

You  may ask why you need to have a course to be 'prepared' to become parents, when it is the most natural thing in the world.  This is because international adoption, and its permutations, is very complex and there are many subtlies that you may not be aware of  and issues that you need to be able to understand. 

The knowledge that you glean from the preparation course, gives you the tools you will assessed for in the Home Study


The Three Day Preparation Course

The course runs over a period of three days.  It may be 3 consecutive days but more likely 3 days separated by a week (for homework and time to learn and reflect) ie. Evey Monday for 3 weeks. It is imperative for both potential parents to attend the course, and excuses, tardiness and leaving early are seen in an extremely poor light. Attendance at the course is reflective of your committment to adopt a child and any vacillation on this will have consequences.


Jamie and Andrea were told that they could not follow through on a Home Study, and thus their dreams of becoming parents, because Jamie bowed out of week 2 and 3 of the preparation course 'due to work commitments'.

Don't let this happen to you. When I did my preparation course it was completely independent and what was said between those four walls remained between them. Things have now changed, however, and the course organisers are required to give feedback to the local authorities on the activities of the potential adopters and the preparation course is now part of your Home Study.

The course is designed to prepare you for the worst case scenario.  It teaches you about all the  problems you may or may not face with your adopted child. These courses are good, and through but they are not balanced.  They highlight and promote the negative aspects of adoption. In true UK style, the children you are about to find and bring into your life, will all face serious problems,  (remember it is the conventional wisdom that all children without parental care are defective). This may be some tactic to shock you and to put off some parent who may not be 100% committed.
They certainly reinforce the ideas about loss, attachment and potential problems, which in some respects is good as we come to adoption in rose-tinted glasses and usually without the awareness that these children will need special attention and careful parenting.  However, in my opinion the course is not balanced and it does not offer any of the positive aspects. 


I felt bombarded by possible potential problems and left some sessions shattered. 


The course does teach you that you needs to be robust.  Highlighting the lot of orphaned children and the damage they have faced is very good basic knowledge. And the knowledge that these children will offer life long challenges, is very powerful and will possibly put off even some of the most committed people. The course was disappointing in the idea that adopted children are damaged children forever. There was very little up to date information with regard to social and medical research which shows that this is not true. And no information was offered about the multitude of  help that is available for these children when they come home.

I remember that the idea of loss was so drummed into me, that I actually felt sorry for my son, for removing him from the orphanage and his carers. I was lead to belive that I was responsible for this 'burden of loss' that he would carry with him for the whole of his life.  As he got older the resentment towards me would grow.  When he was four and we were watching the video of him running and jumping into his new mama's arms, (with the orphanage director shrugging her shoulders and walking off), he started to weep, tears streaming down his face.  I thought 'Oh poor thing', until he turned to me with the biggest smile and said 'I love you' .  I then realised that the tears were tears of joy, and like Khalil Gibran says 'the deeper the sorrow the greater the joy'.  It was wonderful, we laughed and hugged and watched the video again and again and both laughed for joy.  Yes there is loss, but there is also so much joy for everyone.


One of the most powerful things I have heard about adoption, are the words of the Director of Moscow Children's Home No. 11, where she reported in Pravda,  'The hardest thing is when a child asks: 'When will a mama come for me? So the best moment for me is when a child leaves the orphanage with a family." 

So, even if it is never mentioned in the preparation course, keep in your heart  that you are bringing the greatest joy into the lives of these little children. Our job to ensure that this joy will counter-balance any loss they have experienced.  Although the preparation course is held right in the beginning of the process, which is good as it sets up your expectations, I feel that at this time, it is more an exercise in theory as the idea of becoming parents is still so far away. It becomes more valuable closer to the time you are going to bring your child home and even when you have the child home, as then it becomes practically relevant.  International Adoption  Guide is planning a series of adopting parenting workshops and  therapy awareness lectures. We'll keep you posted.

The course is very practical and hands on. There will usually be no more than 16 people, couples and singles adopting from various countries. It is usually held by two social workers with one of them having personal experience of inter-country adoption although this is not always the case.
The aim is for self assessment so that you can learn, evaluate your skills, test your knowledge and preparedness for an inter-country adoption. It examines common adoption issues through lectures, workshops, films, exercises, drawings and games and prepares you for the undertaking of a Home Study.

The Preparation course will cover areas such as:


  • The adoption process
  • Understanding Attachment / separation issues
  • Resources
  • Self-Evaluation
  • Separation, Loss and Trauma and its relevance to adoption
  • Child health and resilience
  • Identity, Race and Culture
  • Family trees and links
  • Support Networks
  • Building Identity
  • Racism
  • Ecomaps
  • Knowledge of country from where you are adopting
  • Meeting an adoptive child's needs


Preparation groups provide you with an opportunity to meet experienced adopters and hear their stories and talk to adopted adults and others touched by adoption. You will find an open arena in which to explore aspects of adoption, question your motivations, challenge your sutibility, provoke your conventional wisdom and  test your committment.

But one of the most important aspects of the Preparation Course,a re the other adopters that you meet. Suddenly, you realise that you are not alone, and that there are other quite friendly families also embarking on the same process.


I was very fortunate on my course to find a couple who live literally 600 meters from my house. We have become firm friends and over thef last 6 eyars have shared many wonderful land marks of our children together. Their support is invaluable to me and reassuring to my son to know that his friend in our neighbourhood is also adopted.


I cannot over emphasise the importance of getting a support network happening. Not only will it allow you to not feel so alone in this whole long process, but adoption buddies (like the one's you will find here) can help pass on valuable tips and information that will save you lots of time and effort and emotional angst.  And we can all do with more of the former and less of the latter!!  So don't be shy, on your preparation course, speak to that person next to you - they could become your biggest ally! 


The 3 day preparation training can be intense, in so far as it raises issues that you possibly have never thought about before - or even heard of before. You will begin to see that your language begins to change as you begin to absorb the adoption glossary.  You begin to realise that adoption not only means 'taking as one's own', but that this choice may not be as smooth a transition as you had hoped and wished for.


Pre-warned is pre-armed and although at the beginning stages, this information may seem unreal, as you are still on the 'following a dream' phase, some information will stick and it opens your mind to awareness of possiblities which you will then explore further in your adoption.





Join today graphic

Adoption News

Why UK has low Inter country adoption numbers

Published - Mar 23, 2017

Nepal to begin process to ratify Hague Convention

Published - Mar 14, 2017