CYMH 5611
Introduction to Adoption and Permanency Planning

3.0 Credits


This course is designed to provide participants with a foundation in the theoretical underpinnings of adoption competent mental health practice. Based on the Center for Adoption Support and Education training for Adoption Competency this course is designed for professionals in the mental health and child welfare field who want to develop their knowledge and skills to better serve adopted children and their families. Throughout the course participants will be encouraged to reflect upon their own attitudes and beliefs about adoption, the diversity of adoptive families, and the challenge when mental health behaviors occur. In addition to an understanding of the theoretical, organizational, legal and ethical issues impacting adoption, the course will focus on developmental stages of children and their adoptive families and the psycho-emotional challenges in adoptive families.

Delivery Method

Online, self-paced.



Recommended Requisites

Completion of a recognized bachelor's degree or master's degree in social work, child and youth care, nursing, education or psychology

Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0


By working through the learning activities in this course, participants will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of theoretical and philosophical approaches to adoption competent practice
  • Assess the legal and ethical issues that impact adoption placement
  • Develop an ideological framework to adoption and permanency planning practice
  • Describe the developmental stages for the adopted child and common developmental challenges
  • Develop an understanding of the developmental stages of adoptive families and process of adoptive family formation and integration
  • Evaluate the racial, ethnic, and cultural issues in adoption
  • Examine the legal, community, and cultural context for Aboriginal adoptions
  • Develop an understanding of issues of diversity in adoption
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of trauma on adopted children including the neuro-developmental impact of abuse, neglect and trauma
  • Assess challenges related to openness between adoptive and birth families
  • Describe how to support adoptive parents as they experience challenging behaviours
  • Evaluate how to effectively work with service systems and the community on behalf of adoptive families experiencing challenges

Course Outline

CYMH 5611: Introduction to Mental Health includes the following 12 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Adoption Competent Mental Health Practice
  • Lesson 2: Overview of Adoption History, Law and Process
  • Lesson 3: Clinical and Ethical Issues
  • Lesson 4: Community Practice--Formal and Informal Resources
  • Lesson 5: Developmental Stages of the Adopted Child
  • Lesson 6: Adoptive Family Formation and Integration
  • Lesson 7: Diversity of Adoptive Families
  • Lesson 8: Adopting Aboriginal Children
  • Lesson 9: Trauma and Brain Neurobiology
  • Lesson 10: Issues of Attachment--Challenges and Opportunities
  • Lesson 11: Openness in Adoption
  • Lesson 12: Adoptive Parents' Experiences and Supports

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

Livingston Smith, S. and Donaldson Adoption Institute staff. Facilitating Adoptions from Care: A compendium of effective and promising practices. London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering, 2014.
Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-1-910039-10-6

Additional Requirements

Additional resources also will be supplied within the course or accessed online. In addition, you will have to access articles through TRU Library's Article Databases. You can do a quick search for an article title by using Summon through the Quick Search window on the Library home page.

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist you throughout the course. Primary communication is through Learning Management System's "Mail" tool or by phone. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.


To successfully pass this course, you must achieve a passing grade of 70% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project.

Assignment 1: Case Study--Applying Knowledge to Practice 10%
Assignment 2: Online Discussion Submissions 10%
Assignment 3: The Organization of Adoption Services Paper and Concept Map 20%
Assignment 4: Multi-media Presentation 30%
Final Project: Case Study * 30%
Total 100%

* Mandatory