The first thing I learned when I enrolled in the adoption training is that there’s a lot more to learn; the last thing I learned, is that I should stop being so flipping selfish.

I must admit I initially resented the notion that, as aspiring adopting parents, we need to be taught how to be one. I really took it the wrong way, as if someone was implying that my inability to have children of my own had something to do with my innate ability to look after one. Back then I would use expressions such as children of my own, which goes to show how little I knew about the whole subject.

I remember wondering how much there might be to learn. It seems silly now, but I remember complaining to myself that most people become parents without any formal qualification; they do just fine, why do I need to do this? There are very few things that can make you feel more insecure than parenthood, and the obvious lack of confidence from Social Services didn’t help.

A more rational part of me eventually accepted that I knew almost nothing about adoption. All I could guess was that there was more to it than what can be learned from the movies. Real-life adoption is obviously very different, and many aspiring adopters (myself included) need to be told. The training provided during the adoption process begins by doing just that, helping people wake up. It touches topics any aspiring adopter should know about, and a lot of what adopters don’t want to hear.

But there’s one more important thing that anyone should take away from the training.

When I first started, to me the adoption process was all about me. Adopting a child was simply a mean to get what I wanted: namely having someone calling me mum. I feel a bit shameful to admit it now, but that was then.

Luckily the training and the process changed my perspective. Even someone as self-centred as myself couldn’t fail to notice that adoption had very little to do with me. None of the sessions I attended focused on the needs of the parents. Parents were rarely even mentioned, if not to illustrate which one handled a horribly difficult situation correctly and which one didn’t; or to prove that, without guidance, I would have gotten it all wrong.

Adopting a child is all about what the child needs. If you, like me, got into the process with the wrong idea it’s fine, you can still do well. Just make sure that, by the end of it, you understand what every social worker has been trying to teach you all along.

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