Workshops & Training
Each month Pact offers at least one educational program specifically designed for adoptive families. Below are descriptions for some of the workshops we offer regularly. Visit our Events page to see when and where each workshop is being offered next, as well as information on featured speakers. We also have programs for specific audiences, including parents of color, LGBT parents, parents of teens, and transracial adopters (see Support for more information).
Pact's Annual Spring Training ConferenceOur annual Spring Training is a daylong conference that features nationally known experts talking about adoptive parenting, with plenty of time for questions and answers and interactive discussion among conference participants. Since each Spring Training explores a different theme, many parents return year after year to fine-tune their parenting skills and address new challenges as they arise. Pact members receive advance announcements of Spring Training speakers and program details.
AdopTalk: Talking With Children About AdoptionAddressing the unique questions and issues inherent to the experience of being adopted, we will discuss the developmental stages that children go through and how each stage changes their understanding and questions about being adopted. Focusing on behavior as the language of children, and research-based tips for understanding a child's point of view and feelings about adoption, practical guidance will be provided for how to create a plan for sharing information and managing the unknowns. We will also address how to handle questions about adoption from others outside of the family, including strategies for kids and adults. The second half of the workshop will focus on telling children their story including the answer to questions such as: What should you share? With whom? How should you handle painful or difficult information? What if you don't know their story, should you fill in the gaps? Participants will have an opportunity to ask specific questions and share stories.
Baby Care For Adopted InfantsFinally a baby care class designed especially for pre-adoptive parents! You will learn the fundamentals of baby care and won't have to sit through topics that don't necessarily apply to your family (such as post-partum care or the assumption that your child must be breast-fed). The class will teach you the basics of baby care as well as give you really practical information about how to promote attachment and read your new baby's cues. Other topics include how to hold your baby, bathing, feeding, clothing, sleeping patterns for the newborn vs. the older infant, health care and safety issues. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be of children up to 2-years-old focusing on when they come home as well as preparing your for the realities of meeting your new baby by adoption and strategies for the early days after they come home.
Lifetime Journey: Exploring Birth Family IssuesLifetime Journey focuses on relationships between children, their birth parents and their adoptive parents, whether they are in an open adoption or a closed one. This workshop will address children's questions about their birth parents -- both the questions they ask and those they hold inside. Recognizing that there are no cookie cutter approaches to building a positive triad relationship and that each family situation is unique, we will address common questions such as: How can birth families remain connected to an adopted child without confusing the child? How can complex relationships between adoptive and birth parents be managed for the support of a child? How do birth parents play a role when it is a closed adoption? Should you consider opening your child's adoption? This will be a safe place to discuss fears and hopes regarding our children's birth parents and their relationship (or lack thereof) to them and us. This workshop is appropriate for both domestic and international adoptions.
Parenting Strategies for Adoptive FamiliesParenting an adopted child is both the same as and incredibly different than parenting a child born to you. We will address specific parenting theories and their usefulness and applicability to adoptive family life, focusing on positive methods for discipline that are effective. Exploration of temperament and power struggles will include practical guidance for the challenges that are normal to parenting and sometimes enhanced under the circumstances of adoption. Audience participation will be encouraged, with an emphasis on exploring specific family concerns and life events like celebrating birthdays, planning vacations, changing schools, moving, divorce, graduation, rites of passage, holidays, adding or losing family members that have special resonance for adoptive families.
Schools & Adoption: A to ZPeople at our children's school are there to support our families even though they don't always understand our special issues. We will discuss everything from dealing with teachers, administration, assignments that can be a challenge to our kids ("the family tree"), choosing schools and handling "problems" when they arise. We will include information on handling learning and curriculum related issues, which often arise with adopted kids, and approaches to handling privacy issues for children in school when they are asked about their adoption information and status. Practical guidance as well as resources will be shared for students of all ages. Special information regarding learning disabilities and strategies for parent advocacy will be included.
True Colors 1: Transracial Adoption-Putting the Puzzle Pieces TogetherTrue Colors is a daylong workshop for transracial, international and interracial families that focuses on the issues inherent to parenting children across racial lines. Participants will hear from adults who were raised in transracial adoptive families as they discuss their experiences and offer insight into what worked as well as what didn't, offering advice for parents about how to address some of the challenges. The afternoon will include an exploration of white privilege and white parents' risk of bringing blinders to some of the racial realities that their children of color will deal with as facts of life. Information about how positive racial identity develops in children of color as well as concrete suggestions for connecting your child to his or her racial heritage will be addressed using real-life scenarios and an interactive approach to problem-solving. Participants will enjoy a provocative and honest examination of the obvious and sometimes not so obvious divides and boundaries that multiracial families must negotiate.
True Colors 2: Pushing Past Racism 101(Prerequisite: True Colors 1 or similar workshop)
Focusing on the lifelong education of adoptive parenting children across racial lines, this workshop features advanced conversations about race that begin with a foundation that already acknowledges that racism exists and has a direct impact on ALL of our lives. We will highlight hands-on internal work with other parents to collaborate and discuss the dissection of the politics of race, transracial and international adoption, and becoming a white ally. This workshop is a corrective action to assist participants in understanding how race impacts transculturally and transracially adopted children as well as their (usually white) parents. We will ask you to dig deeper into your own unexplored racialized thinking and experience. How do you think of yourselves as white allies to people of color? What does this mean? How does this relate to overcoming the urge to be the "racism police" or learning how to speaking with, but not for, people of color? We will think specifically about how you operate in the neighborhoods and communities where you (and your children, if you already have them) reside, and how that translates to supporting your child's self-esteem, and creating a strong sense of comfort in their own skin as well as membership in your family.