Adoption in the Classroom

There are over 1.5 million adopted children in the United States and close to 600,000 children in foster care.  Almost half of all international adoptions and 98% of foster care adoption involve children over the age of one.  Keeping this in mind there are many common school assignments that can make foster and adoptive children feel left out and uncomfortable.  The following are just a few assignments that many schools still use:

  • Family Tree Projects
  • Bring a baby picture
  • Trace your genetic traits

Many adopted and foster care children lack the information for some of these assignments leaving children feeling excluded and may also trigger strong grief reactions.  Many teachers are not aware of the negative impact of these projects unless the subject is brought to their attention.  Fortunately these assignments can be easily modified to work for all children without sacrificing the educational goal.  Generally broadening the scope of the assignment allows children to complete the project with the end goal in mind.

The following books are good publications for teachers and can be purchased through :

Adoption and the Schools: Resources for Parents and Teachers Edited by: Lansign Wood and Nancy Nig: From tots to teens, school can often be a challenge for the adopted child. Sometimes it’s “simply” a matter of educating the educators about adoption, diversity, inclusion, language, and special educational needs. Sometimes you need to go further and tackle deeply-held traditional practices and policies. Either way, ADOPTION AND THE SCHOOLS will help you and your child’s teachers make school a better place for your adopted child.
Children of Intercountry Adoptions in School: A Primer for Parents and Professionals by Ruth Lyn Meese: Children of intercountry adoption have complex histories that place them at high risk for difficulty or failure in school. Teachers and other school professionals rarely know how to test them, teach them, or meet their needs. This volume explains those needs and offers guidelines and suggestions for maximizing the educational performance of these children and helping them to meet their potential.

Adoption Awareness in School Assignments: A Guide for Parents and Educators by Christine Mitchell: This guide covers a greater number of specific assignments than some of the other resources on this topic. The problem with each specific school project is described, and suggestions are provided to make the assignments more inclusive. The outline offers teachers an ‘at-a-glance solution’ without having to search through a longer publication. Exclusive ready-to-use worksheets are included, which can either be handed out as they are, or offered as examples to aid students in drawing their own alternative version of the Family Tree chart.

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