Talking to Your Adopted Child’s Teachers about Adoption
What to share with your child’s teacher about your son or daughter is an issue that every parent faces. However, this can be of special concern to the parents of adopted children.
If you are an adoptive parent you don’t want your child’s teacher to have preconceived notions about your child because he or she was adopted – and you certainly don’t want them to be singled out or treated differently. Yet you do want the teachers to have as much relevant information as possible in order to make your child’s classroom experience a success.
Every adoption situation, every child, and every teacher is different – so there is no “one size fits all” answer as to what the parent of an adopted child should share with a teacher. What may be necessary to share with one child’s teacher, may be completely different in another adoption situation.
However, there are some general “rules of thumb” that adoption therapists and educators agree upon when it comes to apprising your child’s teacher of their adoption details.
Ask Your Child if They Wish to Share that they are Adopted
In most situations, simply asking your child if they want their teacher to know they are adopted is a good starting point. Children usually have a clear sense of what they do and do not want shared about themselves – even from a young age.
Your child’s adoption is usually something that they will consider a very important part of themselves. Typically, young children are more inclined to openly share their story. As they get older they may be more selective about whom they want to know about this part of their life.
Respecting your child’s preferences builds trust – and engenders confidence by giving them some degree of control over “their story.”
Informing Teachers of Adoption Can Help Teachers be Sensitive
Knowing that your child was adopted – as well as when and from where – can improve teacher sensitivity when it comes to lesson planning, projects and general classroom conversation.
For example, “Family Tree” projects are common in many schools. If the teacher is aware that your child was adopted sometime after infancy, they may think twice before assigning a project that involves the students bringing in baby pictures.
Similarly, a teacher may be more culturally sensitive when discussing certain geography or history lessons, if they know about the child’s country of origin.
Supplying Teachers with Adoption Resources Can be Helpful
If you tell your child’s teacher about your child’s adoption, consider also supplying them with some specific resources to help them better understand the unique issues that face all adopted children. Directing them to a reputable website – or giving them a respected book on adoption – can go a long way toward helping them understand the unique issues faced by adoptive children.
Teachers Aware of Adoption Can More Clearly Identify Issues
It can also be very helpful for teachers to know that a child is adopted, so they can help identify any classroom issues.
Adoption can occasionally, though certainly not always, come with “side effects”. There might be attachment issues stemming from adoption or foster care – especially in children who weren’t adopted as babies. In such cases, it can be extremely helpful for your adopted child’s teacher to know the relevant parts of their adoption story.
For example, an adopted child who is demonstrating negative attention-seeking behavior could be experiencing an attachment disorder specific to her pre-adoption situation. A teacher who is aware of this may be able to adapt to the child’s needs and help her appropriately express herself – rather than simply disciplining her.
Experienced Adoption Therapists
As with any parenting situation, communication is at the core of your child’s healthy development: personally, socially and academically.
If you are experiencing any academic, or other, issues related to your child’s adoption please do not hesitate to contact me. I am a specialized adoption therapist –and I have helped many families successfully navigate the unique issues related to adopted children.