Are All Prospective Adoptive Parents Required to Complete the PATH Program?Not everyone is able to fulfill their dreams of having a family biologically, but fortunately, there are many options today to begin or add to a family. Once you’ve decided that adoption is the right choice for you, then it comes down to which adoption route to take. Open, closed, private agency, foster care and state agencies all have their own requirements, depending upon what’s in the best interest of each child and future parent.

PATH stands for Parents as Tender Healers. In Tennessee, if you anticipate becoming an adoptive parent of a child placed with a state agency, you will be required to complete this training course. The intent is to provide you with the education and tools needed to handle special issues that may arise as a result of your adoptive child’s complicated history prior to becoming part of your family.

Who is required to receive PATH training?

Training isn’t required for all prospective parents looking to grow their family through adoption. This is a program specifically designed to accommodate the special needs of parents-to-be who are:

  • Foster parents who have decided to adopt their Foster child
  • Prospective adoptive parents of a child in Foster care or ward of a state agency
  • Any adult who is at least 18 years of age and resides in the home

You can qualify to be a Foster parent whether you’re married, single, or divorced. There is also no preference given to whether you already have children. Other basic criteria for approval includes:

  • Having your own residence whether you own or rent
  • Being at least 21 years of age
  • Being a resident of the state of Tennessee
  • Being fingerprinted and passing a background check
  • Being able to meet the financial needs of your family

The state understands that families’ lives don’t stop when they have children so working full time will not disqualify you as a potential Foster parent candidate.

What does PATH training include?

Different agencies and nonprofits offer PATH training programs with minor variances but the core curriculum remains the same. You will invest 23 to 30 hours into this mandatory adoption instruction and self-assessment process.

PATH training and homework videos help adoptive Foster parents become acquainted with certain difficulties they may need to work through when parenting their adoptive child, such as:

  • Understanding the child welfare system. It’s important to realize that many children in Foster care are still connected to their biological parents and the primary goal is to keep those families intact. Shared parenting, where you will develop a relationship with the child’s biological parents to reduce the effects of instability with which the child has lived.
  • The impact of trauma on your child. You will learn how children end up in Foster care or state agencies, how the various reasons may create different types of trauma for children and how they feel, and the coping mechanisms children may use to deal with those feelings.
  • How to effectively discipline your child. Children who have experienced trauma requires special techniques for being disciplined that allows them to feel safe while understanding their behavior is inappropriate.
  • Cultural awareness. Prospective parents will gain an understanding of the differences between culture, race, and ethnicity and their relevance to fostering and adopting a child. You’ll also learn how to maintain a level of awareness in your home to help bridge the gap between yours and your prospective child’s differences in background.

What skills can I expect to gain from PATH training?

PATH training is geared toward giving parents the knowledge to provide a safe, understanding and loving home for a child who has been deprived of that experience. By reaching certain objectives, you will know how to:

  • Handle daily medical and psychological care and other basic needs such as clothing, education, and maintaining the child’s relationship with his or her birth family.
  • Implement problem solving skills based on the situation.
  • Navigate the negative, critical, or distrustful attitudes a Foster child may exhibit.
  • Identify elements of the child’s behavior as a result of his or her stay in foster care.

Adopting a child is exciting but can be challenging when that child has had a rough start in life. You become their support system, and our dedicated family law attorneys become part of yours. The Maryville adoption attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. help build loving families throughout East Tennessee. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our caring legal team, please call 865-982-8060, or you are welcome to complete our contact form.