Sept. 29, 2005
Deciding to adopt a child is a free ticket to an emotional roller coaster. That ride is nothing, however, compared to the emotional ride and red tape facing an adopted child who decides to find his birth parents or birth parents searching for their biological child.

Until now, both adoptive parents and those searching for a long-lost child or parent were pretty much on their own. But two new courses from HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, are designed to ease the process.

Adoption 101 and Adoption Search and Reunification seminars offered by the Harrisburg and Lebanon Campuses of HACC will help take the fear out of both adoption processes. Participants also will have access to an adoption social worker with 15 years of experience including successful completion of nearly 200 searches.

Adoption 101 (for potential adoptive parents) will be offered at the Harrisburg Campus of HACC on Saturday, Oct. 8, 1-3 p.m. Cost is $20, and one guest per student may attend free of charge.

This seminar will present the three major types of adoption in Pennsylvania - private/domestic, special needs and international. The procedures for all three types of adoption will be discussed and they will be compared and contrasted for fees, length of the process, the children and the risks.

Participants will come away from the seminar with a strong sense of how each type of adoption works and which type is most appropriate for them.

"This is an opportunity for prospective adoptive parents to hear about their options without having the focus or bias on any one adoption agency or type of adoption. They should come away with the confidence to pursue adoption," said Sandi Bornman, class instructor and an adoption consultant.

Adoption Search and Reunification (for adoptee, birth parents and adoptive parents) will be offered at the Lebanon Campus of HACC on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6-8 p.m., and at the Harrisburg Campus of HACC on Saturday, Oct. 22, 1-4 p.m. Cost is $25 per person.

This seminar will discuss all aspects of adoption search and reunification. It will discuss the reasons why the adoptee, the birth parents and the adoptive parents may conduct a search, although usually the adoptee or birth parent are searching for their relative. Searching can mean anything from exchanging information through a third party to a reunion, as well as anything in between.

Bornman also will discuss the status of adoption records in Pennsylvania. She will cover techniques for locating biological relatives but most importantly discuss possible outcomes and the emotional effects of searching for and being reunited with biological relatives.

"Adoptees and birth parents often find there are very few resources and support services available to them," said Bornman.

"Usually all that they can do is put their names and information on a registry on the Internet or with their adoption agency. This class offers techniques for locating their biological relatives, but more important is the information they will receive on the emotional aspects and potential outcome of searching.

"It will help them to understand how their biological relative may be feeling about a search and perhaps being located," said Bornman.

"Of course it is always rewarding to find new adoptive families for children, but there is really something great about helping an adult adoptee or birth parent find peace in their heart where they feel something is missing. That is usually how they describe the feeling. So if people are feeling afraid to come to class, I want them to know this will be a very safe and compassionate setting," explained Bornman.

She formerly was licensed by the Arizona State Supreme Court to conduct search and reunification services and has worked completing searches and international and domestic adoptions in Pennsylvania for the last seven years.

Bornman will be available for questions and to assist families after all classes.

Registration and information is available by accessing HACC's Community Education Center's Autumn 2005 Schedule of Noncredit Classes at the Website below. Information also may be obtained by calling the Harrisburg Campus of HACC at 717-780-2414 or 717-780-2616 or the Lebanon Campus of HACC at 717-270-4222.

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