What is the Infant Adoption Awareness Act?
On October 17, 2000, the U.S. Congress advised the Public Health Services Act to commission specific activities pertaining to Infant Adoption Awareness (title XII, Subtitle A), thus called the Infant Adoption Awareness Act. This required the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to adoption organizations to develop and implement programs to train the designated staff of eligible health centers, or public and nonprofit private entities that provide health services to pregnant women. The programs would train eligible health center personnel to provide adoption information and referrals to pregnant women on an equal basis with all other courses of action included in non-directive counseling for pregnant women.
The legislation also required the Secretary to establish a set of best-practice guidelines that the DHHS-funded training programs would adhere to while providing training to the staff of the eligible health centers. These “best-practice” guidelines were critical for attaining the primary IAATP goal, which was enhancing the ability of health center staff to provide adoption information and referrals on an equal basis with all other courses of action included in non-directive counseling for pregnant women. Consistent with the intent of the legislation, these guidelines were developed in consultation with 29 experts in the fields of adoption, child welfare, health services, medicine, law, and adoption counseling, as well as adoptive parents. The guidelines specific to the Infant Adoption Awareness training program included training goals such as:
- Imparting up-to-date information about adoption, such as the various types of adoptions.
- Conveying accurate information regarding the decision in which a birth parent may or may not choose adoptive parents for the child.
- Locating the various adoption services available within the community and assessing the quality and appropriateness of their services for a particular woman.
The training also intended to provide basic skills to the eligible health center staff, such as:
- Increasing their awareness of their attitudes and biases pertaining to adoption so that they are able to present the option of adoption in an objective, non-biased manner.
- Increasing their sensitivity, understanding and skills regarding the influences that both a birth mother and birth father may experience from family, peers, and community members.
- Training participants who will counsel pregnant women. That these counselors will be skilled in non-directive counseling to ensure that adoption information, and information about other pregnancy options, is presented objectively, without bias or judgment.
- Training participants to increase their knowledge of available adoption-related referral resources and how to assess the quality and appropriateness of these resources.
What happened to this training?
Unfortunately, grants are no longer allowed to obtain this type of adoption training.
The National Council For Adoption currently provides a free online pregnancy counseling training through their Infant Adoption Revival Program. The National Council For Adoption conveys that this training is an online program designed to give professionals basic knowledge and the tools they need to understand and share the option of adoption. The training aims to give pregnancy counselors the confidence to comfortably share the option of adoption on an equal basis with all other options, so that clients facing an unintended pregnancy can make a fully informed decision. The online training program provides two hours of continuing education credit endorsed by The Catholic University of America, School of Social Work.
What can we do?
Ask your local abortion center if their workers or counselors are required to complete any form of adoption counseling training. Furthermore, sign Talk About Adoption™’s petition to mandate abortion center workers and counselors to complete some form of adoption training, such as the online pregnancy counseling training provided by the National Counsel For Adoption. You can find the training here: considerthepossibilities.org.