For many adoptees and adoptive parents, their schools can be very supportive. Teachers and educators are usually cognitive of diversity in their classrooms. When children hear about adoption from their role models, such as a teacher, it can help validate for them that adoption is a good way to build families. Openly discussing adoption in class can make other children aware of the challenges adoptees may face in school, during certain assignments and from intrusive questions from others.
Unfortunately, not all educators are trained to talk about adoption; nor does the thought of it cross their minds. For most of the public, if you do not have a personal connection, it’s difficult to understand the truths about adoption. Some people only know what they are exposed to in the media—which is not always the most positive. Even though adoption is not as taboo as is used to be, the community often is not prepared to discuss it openly and accurately. Uneducated discussion can be as harmful as a lack of adoption discussion to begin with. Adoptees are often asked the toughest questions about their adoption stories when they are at school. They may come from curiosity, bullying, or nosiness.
AFTH Shares “Adoption” with Local Students
Adoptions From the Heart was recently invited to attend Community Day at Peirce Middle School in West Chester, PA. Teachers who had adopted through the agency thought that it would be a great idea to expose their students to the organization and the idea that families are created in all different ways–that it is important to be aware of children, in particular, who were adopted into their families.
Social workers from the agency exposed adoption myths and facts. Students were surprised to learn how many people and even celebrities are connected to adoption in some way. They heard different perspectives from adoptees their own age— how they felt about knowing or not knowing their birth parents; their lack of medical and family history in many cases; and for transracial adoptees—their struggles identifying with one particular ethnicity.
Our guest speaker, Kyle, told his story of being adopted from Honduras. Kyle has no knowledge of a family tree or history. No pictures or even descriptions of his biological parents. The date which calls his “birthday” is basically an educated guess. Other than a few small details, Kyle’s family history is one big mystery. Through his storytelling, students were able to relate to Kyle and realize that certain school projects, especially those which highlight ethnicity and family trees, can be a great struggle for Kyle both technically and emotionally.
At the end of the day, students were eagerly raising hands to ask questions and share stories of people they know who have either adopted or have been adopted. At they end of the day they were then asked to create posters expressing their ideas on what “Adoption Means…”. When the posters were presented, every picture, word, and phrased students expressed were true and positive. A handful of students who were adoptees themselves said how special it felt to have a whole morning dedicated to their friends and fellow students catching a glimpse of what it feels like to be adopted.
What Can You Do As a Parent?
Parents can promote the need for open communication about adoption in schools by talking to teachers and providing them with information and resources for learning more about adoption. Contact your local adoption agency if you think that your child’s educators would be open to an adoption presentation in their classrooms.