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Foster Care and Adoption Requirement: MAPP Classes

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Cystic Fibrosis and Foster Care

MAPP-binderOne of the mandatory things everyone who wants to adopt or foster in Florida has to do is attend MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) classes. Ours were weekly, 3 hours long, and lasted 10 weeks, so you do the math. It’s a lot of training.

What was interesting about our class, which happened to be unusually large, was that we were almost the youngest couple there. I’d say that the average age was around the upper 30s with a fair share of middle-aged parents. The vast majority of them had kids already or had adopted already. Many were there because of the church’s ministry to fostering as a way of helping as many children as possible – as the most helpless members of society.

We fell in love with that mission after the first meeting and switched from wanting to selfishly adopt to selflessly foster. That decision immediately altered how to soaked up the information and made for quite a few good dinner discussions as we went over our homework and thought about various scenarios that people should never, ever have to think about. It breaks your heart to just consider some of the topics as remotely possible in our country, let alone our county.

Some of the topics covered are:

  • gains and losses (entering and leaving the foster care environment)
  • attachments
  • helping children manage their behavior (2 sessions)
  • understanding the impact of fostering

One thing we heard repeatedly from parents taking the class or guest speakers who have been through the process was that they wish they’d taken a class like this before they had their biological kids. That made me feel better about entering into the process where we might not be starting out with a newborn that sleeps most of the day. The spectrum of kids in the system is as wide as they come, but I think the class did as good of a job as possible in a non-hands-on environment to prepare us mentally and emotionally for what is to come.

Reboot my brain

One of the biggest mental adjustments for me, personally, was coming up with non-corporal punishment techniques… even more, positive techniques rather than negative methods. Their research and support was thorough, and quite obvious, as most of them will have either been neglected and/or physically/mentally/sexually (or all of the above) abused by their protectors in life: their parents. They have had all of the negativity they need in a lifetime by the time they come to us. It’s a time to be built up and repaired. If they do something negative, it’s up to us to avoid any methods of coercion and punishment.

This blew my mind for the entire first session on behavior until I got through the material. Then it made sense. I was sitting there wondering how you get through to a kid who is wrecking your house or calling you every name a sailor ever conceived of without punishment. At least this is new to me, so I’m a blank slate except for my childhood experiences. Examples of positive discipline:

  • reinforcing acceptable behavior
  • verbal disapproval of the behavior, not the child
  • loss of privileges
  • grounding (never lock them in a room and isolation is only for short periods when out of control)
  • redirecting activity (when playing with a sharp object, replace it with a safe toy)

I’m going to have to learn this proactive parenting as we go, and it’s a bit overwhelming, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it molds me as a parent rather than going on gut instincts.

Have you taken MAPP or something like it?

I’d assume requirements vary by state. What did you have to take to foster or adopt? Was it helpful when it came down to putting things into practice? Would you recommend any other resources?

Comments

  1. Elisa17 says:

    Happy 4th!  Since I can’t respond to your facebook posts, I’ll respond here!  So excited for you guys . . . . we too were the youngest in our MAPP classes (I was 21 at the time) and we had never parented!  Definitely makes for a different life experience than most.
    As you may or may not know, our first placement was twin boys who were 18months old at the time!~ talk about getting thrown into parenting ; )
    if you and “Beautiful” ever want some licensed for 9 years “veterans” who are still your age, we’d love to talk . . . . or if you need help navigating system resources once you get a placement, feel free to holler!
    Blessings to you both!
    It’s a selfless journey you will never regret.  I know that our call to “care for the orphan” is a large part of the reason we are so richly blessed!

    Elisa

    • Thanks! I’m trying to find out why you can’t reply on Facebook. I have some clients who can and some who have to make a post on my wall. I hate their maze of settings and can’t wait to try Google +.

      I’d love to take you up on your offer when we get a bit closer. I’ve got 2 previous fostering posts before this if you haven’t seen them.

      Did you have Lauren as the MAPP instructor? She’s fantastic and lives near us – we saw her at Goodwill one day recently.

  2. I was a foster teen (This was in the late 70’s early 80’s) so getting placed as a teen was had enough but having real rules and structure was even harder to grasp.
    Now being a parent myself has had it’s challenges all in it’s own. My oldest has Asperger’s, my middle child is a Special Education teacher, and my youngest (who is now 18) has CF and other health related issues.
    I wish you two all the best.

    Take Care,
    Julie
    Oklahoma
     

    • Thanks for commenting, Julie. Some of the neatest guests from class were former foster kids. Our favorite was a 19 yr old who was adopted recently by a 50-something woman. He has moderate learning issues, but was very pleasant and kind-hearted. Keep in touch.

      • Your welcome.
        My story didn’t end as well but back then courts/judges were not child friendly. I was blessed though with my foster family that even when I was ordered back home they kept an eye on me and helped me graduate high school.

        We actually have a friend in common…Kristi B. 🙂