Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Advisor

Betzi Bateman


Families who choose to adopt may do so for a variety of reasons. Some may choose to adopt due to infertility or medical issues with one or both of the parents, so they may choose to adopt to avoid the risk of passing on a genetic or medical condition. Some may believe they are saving a child who otherwise would not grow up with the benefits of a loving and supportive family, and some choose to adopt because they lack an appropriate partner with whom to have a biological child. Regardless of the reason, parents believe that with love and a nurturing environment, the child will thrive and will love their parents as if they were born to them.

However, for those families whose adopted children have trauma histories, which may or may not be known at the time of the adoption, the reality of their family may be quite different from their dream. These families are often ill-prepared to manage and parent a child whose behaviors are unimaginable or unmanageable. New Janus is a single-staffed family training organization whose goal is to help parents prepare for the challenges associated with an adopted child who is one year or older and who has a history or trauma.

The goal of this training program is to help parents assess their ability to parent an adopted child whose history of trauma and whose behaviors push parents and the family into chaos.

To determine the specific training needs parents will need to assess their ability to parent a child with a trauma history, a needs assessment was done, collecting data via one‑on-one interviews. Several individuals were interviewed including the director of a group home for adolescents, two social workers, and six parents of adopted children.

The analysis of the needs assessment data pointed to three training topics, including:

  • Trauma: recognizing the types and degree of trauma a child may experience and how that trauma may manifest itself in the family setting.
  • Parenting skills: identifying parenting skills that will be effective with children who have trauma histories and adjusting expectations with regard to the child’s overall behavior and expressions of affection.
  • Support services: identifying the variety of support services that may be needed at any time during the adoption journey.

Considering that the nature of this content is both extremely personal and emotional, New Janus determined that live, face-to-face training will be the most effective training approach. The training will be divided into three 3-hour sessions. The first and last sessions will be facilitator-led with a focus on engaging and encouraging parents to examine their vision of their adoption and compare that to the challenges and behaviors of adopted children who suffer from trauma histories. The second session will be a panel discussion that includes a social worker, a special education professional, a psychologist, and adoptive parents. A summative evaluations will be done at the end of each session.