April Uduhiri, Asia Program Caseworker
Gladney Center for Adoption has a philosophy and commitment of "Families for Life" - providing supportive services to families throughout all stages of the adoption process and beyond. As the face of international adoption has changed over the past several years, Gladney's adoptive parent training has also evolved to better support and equip parents to meet the needs of their children and families. As a result, Pathways group training was implemented by Gladney's Family Services department in January 2011 for families adopting children over the age of two.
This past month I travelled from NYC to Gladney's main campus in Fort Worth, TX to participate in the two day training. Going in, my expectations for the training were already pretty high based on the positive feedback I had heard from families and staff who had previously attended Pathways. I knew I would be in for two days of good information that I hoped would enrich my work with adoptive families. What I didn't expect was that halfway through the first day, I was already blown away by the depth of knowledge and compassion of the presenters (my fellow Gladney co-workers and friends!) and I quickly found my perspective shifting from participating as a social work professional to listening from the context of my own personal life and family! The training covered many important topics, including children's "brain power", sensory needs, attachment and parenting techniques, but we also were challenged to think beyond that into our own family histories and attachment styles to know ourselves (and our triggers!) better. We were encouraged to play with "fidgets" during the presentations and actively participate in couple and group activities to experience what was being taught in a hands on manner. I think everyone who attended really appreciated hearing from been-there-done-that adoptive parents who had struggled with the unique needs of their kids and their honesty and openness really added to the depth of the training. After having gone through the two days, I can't imagine adopting a child without having this important training!
Lastly, being at the Texas campus is always a great reminder to me of the rich history that Gladney carries and of the work that so many have done over the past 125 years to bring children and families together. I am so proud to be part of an organization that supports families and serves children in need like Gladney.
One of our families adopting from China recently attended the training and wrote:
"Pathways Training was really good!! The combination of the great training along with being in the same room with people adopting from China as well as other countries made it a wonderful time. We made some friendships that I think will last a long time. Paula was an excellent teacher and so were Bethany and Heather. We left wondering how people could adopt without going through that kind of training first and felt very privileged to have been able to be a part of it. It also gave us a much bigger picture of Gladney and a greater appreciation for all that the center does."
Karen Rapp, South Carolina (adopting a 3 year old from China)