Considering Foster Parenting

This is the column where our readers can write in with their questions. We’ll field the questions to one or more experts in the subject and post the responses typically within 2 weeks. Write Us with Your Question!

Q: My husband and I had our daughter when I was 39 and now that she’s three years old, we’d like to add to our family. Having been through a pregnancy and now raising a daughter who is genetically related to us makes us open to expanding our family by being foster parents and potentially adopting. What should are the steps for fostering?

Response from Sharon Munroe, founder/executive director:

Family photo

Sharon, Jasmine (at her third birthday) and Grandma Barbara.

A:  There are choices for adding to a family through foster care, domestic and international adoption. Here are the steps we took to add to our family through foster care:

  1. My husband and wanted to learn more about fostering and adopting and went to an orientation with our state agency “CPS” in January 2010.
  2. In March of that year we were selected to begin training in Texas’ PRIDE Program with the hope of being certified as a foster and adoptive home and being able to care for a child. (Many similar training and placement programs exist in our city and across the country, including those with private agencies.)
  3. In that six-week period, we had lots of homework, including paperwork to complete, home and fire inspections, a first aid and CPR training class and of course, a home study. Early in the process, we also had the mandatory criminal background checks.
  4. A Home study is next. During that visit, we talked with a social worker about a variety of topics including our own childhoods, and our values and plans for the placement. Importantly, we were asked about our support network and how our families, friends and neighbors would react to a foster placement and adoption of a child.
  5. Once we were certified as a foster and adoptive family we waited fora call. The waiting was hard.
  6. We received a call from our local child protective services office and received our foster daughter and paperwork.

(She was eligible for adoption 1.5 years later and we adopted her at age 2. She is shown celebrating her third birthday in the photo.)

You can learn more, and find out if foster or foster-to-adopt is the right way to build or expand your family at the State of Texas website, or your state’s Child Protective Services website.

We’d love to see your question! Write Us with Your Question!

The Advanced Maternal Age Project’s Guide to Birthing Classes

We’ve put together this handy overview to help you start evaluating options for birthing classes. Please let us know if there are any you’d like to see added.

*We’ve included only the basic information (straight from the sites) for the different options, so be sure to visit each provider’s site for more details!








Approach to Birth

  • Birth is normal, natural and healthy.
  • The experience of birth profoundly affects women and their families.
  • Women’s inner wisdom guides them through birth.
  • Women’s confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth.
  • Women have the right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.
  • Birth can safely take place in homes, birth centers and hospitals.
  • Childbirth education empowers women to make informed choices in health care, to assume responsibility for their health and to trust their inner wisdom.

Class Information:  Small classes, with no more than 12 couples, consist of at least 12 hours of instruction time. Lamaze class content includes instruction or information on the following:

  • Body positioning for labor and birth
  • Massage and relaxation techniques to ease pain
  • Support during labor
  • Effective communication skills
  • Medical procedures
  • Breastfeeding
  • Healthy lifestyle choices

Contact:  [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]Lamaze International[/fancy_link]________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Philosophy/Mission:  HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method – is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques. HypnoBirthing® provides the missing link that allows women to use their natural instincts to bring about a safer, easier, more comfortable birthing. Emphasis is placed on pregnancy and childbirth, as well as on pre-birth parenting and the consciousness of the pre-born baby. As a birthing method, HypnoBirthing® is as new as tomorrow and as old as ancient times. It is presented in a series of five, 2 1/2-hour classes.

Class Information: 

  • Unit 1: Building A Positive Expectancy
  • Unit 2: Falling in Love with Your Baby/Preparing Mind & Body
  • Unit 3: Getting Ready to Welcome your Baby
  • Unit 4: An overview of Birthing – A Labor of Love
  • Unit 5: Birth – Breathing Love – Bringing Life

Contact:  [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]Hypnobirthing[/fancy_link]


The Bradley Method

Philosophy/Mission:  What is the difference between The Bradley Method® and other types of childbirth classes? The Bradley Method® is unique. Our classes stress the importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families. We attract families who are willing to take the responsibility needed for preparation and birth.

Class Information:  The Bradley Method® series is designed for small classes with lots of individual attention. The standard length is 12 weeks covering 12 units of instruction. The Student Workbook is included with classes. It has over 130 pages with over 75 pictures and illustrations. Your local teacher of The Bradley Method® is an independent affiliated instructor.

By taking classes in The Bradley Method®of natural childbirth, you will learn about:

  • Prenatal nutrition & exercise
  • Relaxation for an easier birth
  • Husbands as coaches
  • Birth plans and more!

Contact:  [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]The Bradley Method[/fancy_link]


Birthing from Within

Philosophy/Mission:  Birthing  From  Within exists to inspire and teach expecting and new parents, and those who work with them, to:

  • Prepare for birth as a Rite of Passage.
  • Understand the power and life-long impact that “birthing from within” offers all participants in birth.
  • Co-create holistic prenatal care that is informative, transformative, and builds a foundation for birthing in awareness in our birth culture, whatever the birth location or outcome or events of the birth.
  • Prevent or minimize emotionally difficult births (for parents and professionals) through compassionate, honest preparation.
  • Honor and use the power of Birth Story telling and listening.

Class Information:

In your Birthing From Within classes, you will learn how to:

  • Experience birth as a rite of passage
  • Eat a sound diet (pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Open your body-mind before and during labor with self-hypnosis and visualizations
  • Build confidence in yourself and your partner
  • Ask questions and make decisions in labor
  • Protect your birth space
  • Tame your “Birth Tigers”TM
  • Push your baby out
  • Welcome your baby
  • Recover and plan postpartum
  • Care for and feed your newborn
  • Give birth from within during a Cesarean, while using pain medication, or with medical support….and much more!

Contact:  [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]Birthing from Within[/fancy_link]




Philosophy/Mission:  BirthWorks embodies the philosophy of developing a woman’s self-confidence, trust, and faith in her innate ability to give birth. It is our mission to train childbirth educators and doulas who in turn provide evidence-based, current information to birthing families through a unique experiential approach that is based on human values. BirthWorks seeks working relationships with other childbirth related organizations, striving together to help birthing families make more informed and safe choices for birth.

Class Information: 

  • First Class: Feelings, Philosophies
  • Second Class: Healthy Pregnancy, Optimal Birth
  • Third Class: Forces Driving Technology in Birth and What You Can Do
  • Fourth Class: Birth Physiology and Working with Labor Contractions
  • Fifth Class: Your Amazing Body and Beliefs About Birth
  • Sixth Class: Stages of Grieving, Healing Birth-Related Losses
  • Seventh Class:  Labor and Birth, Mothers and Daughters

Contact: [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]Birthworks International[/fancy_link]


International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)

Philosophy/Mission:  The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) as a professional organization supports educators and other health care providers who believe in freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care.

ICEA’s goals are to provide: 
* Training and continuing education programs
* Quality educational resources
* Professional certification programs

The birth of a baby represents, as well, the birth of a family. The woman giving birth and the persons significant and close to her are forming a new relationship, with new responsibilities to each other, to the baby, and to society as a whole. Family-centered reproductive care may be defined as care which recognizes the importance of these new relationships and responsibilities, and which has as its goal the best possible health outcome for all members of the family, both as individuals and as a group.

Family-centered care consists of an attitude rather than a protocol. It recognizes a vital life event rather than a medical procedure. It appreciates the importance of that event to the woman and to the persons who are important to her. It respects the woman’s individuality and her sense of autonomy. It realizes that the decisions she may make are based on many influences of which the expertise of the professional is only one. It requires that all relevant information be made available to the woman to help her achieve her own goals, and that she be guided but not directed by professionals she has chosen to share the responsibility for her care.

Class Information:  There are no membership requirements for individuals other than a commitment to family-centered maternity care and the philosophy of freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in childbirth. *Class content varies depending on instructor

Contact: [fancy_link color=”black” link=””]ICEA[/fancy_link]


*Many hospitals also provide birthing classes.  Check with the hospital where you plan to give birth or the one nearest you.