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ADOPTION & THE SCHOOLS PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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ADOPTION & THE SCHOOLS. When adoptive parents send their children to school, they want what all parents want. They want their children to be happy, successful, to make friends, to enjoy learning and most important, to feel comfortable in the big world represented by the classroom.

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When adoptive parents send their children to school, they want what all parents want.

They want their children to be happy, successful, to make friends, to enjoy learning and most important, to feel comfortable in the big world represented by the classroom.

First Question most parents raise about adoption and the school is: To Tell or Not to Tell

  • You want:

    • To communicate your child’s needs to their teacher.

    • Communication with your child’s teacher about adoption issues that may come up in school.

    • To help teachers understand more about adoption issues.

  • You do not want:

    • Every problem that occurs to be viewed as adoption related.

    • Concerns that sharing adoption can lead to labeling.

    • Any information you share to be used in an embarrassing or negative way.

So the question is not whether to tell or not tell, but how parents and educators will work together.

They need a common understanding of the complex experience of adoption and how it impacts children and adolescents in school. So the question becomes how to talk to teachers about adoption.







Structures to talk to teachers about adoption.

  • Just like telling your child one time about their adoption is not enough, telling teachers one time that your child was adopted is not enough either.

  • First step is to establish a relationship with your child’s teacher and your child’s school.

  • September is a good place to start. Becoming their ally and making a good connection first, before you start even talking about adoption and asking for things!

  • Use positive adoption language handouts.

  • Discuss developmentally appropriate adoption concepts.

  • Learn how to talk about assignments that need to be more adoption sensitive.

  • Have ideas about alternate assignments that meet curriculum goals.

Where to begin: What to tell ?

  • What to tell ?

    • You will tell the teacher that your child was adopted. Guideline - what information about my child is crucial to share in order for the teacher to meet his current needs – learning, behavioral, social?

    • The child’s story is his. It happened to him and it is his to tell. You also want to be careful not to share details that you have not shared with your child since you barely know who you are talking to.

    • General adoption themes can be shared especially when they are related to the particular age and stage of development the teacher is dealing with. Adopted children may experience feelings of loss and grief, sensitivity to transitions, exclusions and rejections, or issues with identity, control or fantasy related to adoption.

Where to begin: Parents do not need to give details of child’s adoption

  • Parents do not need to give details of child’s adoption.

    • But you can tell teacher if a certain time of year is difficult for your child. For example, birthday or anniversary of placement may be when your kids have a hard time. If you know a pattern, share it with the teacher.

    • By identifying a pattern for the teacher, there is a better chance that your child’s difficult behavior will be understood. if your child is doing something unusual, he is less likely to be labeled as acting out and more likely to be helped.

Show the teachers that you are there to help, to make it easier, to be a resource.

  • Discuss assignments using the 3 step model:

    • Identify the purpose of the assignment.

    • Discuss concerns about making the assignment more adoption sensitive.

    • Offer alternatives that the teacher can use to achieve the purpose of the assignment.

  • Another way to work with the school is to go to team meetings conferences with an advocate who understands the adoption issues.

    • Get an evaluation by an adoption sensitive specialist. Parents can bring the Adoption Specialist or their evaluation to school IEP meetings. Balance the scales. The school will be more likely to listen to the therapist/advocate “expert.”

    • Dr. Boris Gindis is doing very thorough evaluations with school recommendations for children who have been in orphanages. (See Resources.)

    • The IAC Center can collaborate with school professionals and/or direct you to evaluators who are sensitive to differential diagnosis issues when adoption is a factor. School readiness, education planning and language, sensory development and transitional issues are all considered .

In Conclusion: school is a place where positive adoptive education can occur.

  • Teacher Tips

    • Hope is that school can present adoption as a legitimate and positive way to join a family

    • Mention adoption in class, especially when discussing family life.

    • Present assignments which require personal or family history with sensitivity and alternatives

    • Use positively oriented books included for the classroom reading and in library.

    • Positive Adoption Language, a general understanding of adoption and the age related adoption issues they will be dealing with.

    • When a child whose family is touched by adoption sees pictures of non-traditional families on the walls of his classroom, she feel connected to the educational setting.

    • When assignments are broadened purposefully to be inclusive and respectful of many diverse family models, the child can relax

    • When parents add their expertise, their adoption savvy, their advocacy and their support, school education is enriched.

    • When students understand the difference between respectful privacy and fearful secrecy and when they distinction is honored by adults, children feel safe & secure

Where to Get More Information

  • Other training sessions

    For more information see our website:

    • How to Talk to Children about Adoption: Ages infancy to 6 - This workshop will be on Saturday October 8, 2005 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Center in Pennington.

    • How to Talk to Children about Adoption:  Ages 6 to 12 - This workshop will be on Saturday October 15, 2005 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Center in Pennington.

    • International Adoption Workshop - This workshop will address younger and older adopted children’s issues. Jane Aronson, MD will be one of the speakers. This workshop will be on Saturday, April, 2005 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Princeton Hyatt.

  • Web sites

    • Bgcenter Online School at Primary focus on older, internationally adopted children.

    • A special section on the EMK Press site that is devoted to school resources.

    • New Diversity Webpage for teachers.

    • Adoptive Families magazine website for some great FREE articles about Adoption and School.

    • Planning Ahead for National Adoption Month In Your Community A  presentation showcasing the many different ways that people become family.

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