Adoption University: Lesson Plans for Schools

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I recently had the opportunity to review Adoption University®, a curriculum developed for high school students by Deb Brandt of the Nebraska Children's Home Society (NCHS). The program is currently being used by 150 Nebraska teachers, and has been endorsed by the Nebraska Department of Education.

The curriculum has been developed to be presented in regular class slots (45-50 minutes each) in five segments (ideally during a one-week period), or in block class periods (80-90 minutes each) in three segments.

Adoption is presented within the parameters of the programs offered by NCHS, that is, with varying degrees of openness, beginning with the selection of adoptive parents by the expectant/placing parent(s).

Strengths

The program has several strengths:
  • It uses several different teaching methods involving written materials, videos, personal presentations, and active role-playing, reaching students who learn in different ways.
  • It includes evaluation surveys for both students and teachers that can be used to target weaknesses and strengths, and where the program may not be addressing some questions.
  • The program does more than present adoption as one option for unplanned pregnancy. It addresses language, loss, the history of adoption, the adoptive family as a unit, as well as the fact that not all adoptions are ideal.
Weaknesses

If the curriculum has any obvious weaknesses, they would be in the area of personal presentations, which don't include adoptees, and - from surveys of students polled, haven't always included one or more of the other stakeholders in an adoption - case worker, birth parent, adoptive parent. All connected to adoption understand how important it is hear personal experience first-hand, and to ask questions, and I would hope that as the program develops, personal interaction for students with at least one representative of each group (including adoptees) would become a mandatory component.

Deb Brandt, who developed the course for NCHS, has just completed two-day middle school curriculum and is working on a program for elementary schools. Before joining NCHS as Education Director, she taught school at the elementary, high school, and college levels for 22 years.

If you're interested in learning more about Adoption University® or acquiring it for your agency to share with schools in your state, Deb Brandt can be reached at nchkedu@kearney.net or (308) 237-2304.
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