Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to School...Is Your School Adoption-Friendly?

There are many ways to help children, adopted or not, feel that adoption is a great way to create a family. It usually begins with parents as advocates, taking small steps in educating their schools and community to the world of adoption. In convincing teachers/administrators of the importance of adoption awareness, be aware of the following:

**Our children should be empowered to deal with questions, but they shouldn't be expected to cope with them on their own.

**ALL children can benefit from education on adoption. There are children at school, cousins, friends all around who are adopted. They need to know this is a great way to build a family.
**Some families are not comfortable with others knowing their adoptive status. Wouldn't it be reassuring if their child told them there was a discusssion at school that included adoptive families in a positive, casual way?

Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest! The important thing is to be prepared! And remember, it's normal for children who aren't adopted to not understand adoption. They need your help! Here are some typical questions:
--How much did your parents pay for you?
--Can you speak another language?
--How come your mom didn't want you? How could she just give you away?
--Is he your real brother?
--What's it like to be adopted?
--How come you're brown and your mom's white?

And some sample responses:
--Some children don't want to share personal information. That is their choice. But I can tell you about adoption.
--Adoptive families begin in a different way, but they are families just the same as others.
--Sometimes people cannot take care of their children. But there are other families that can. These are adoptive families.
--All adoptive situations are different. Did you know that more than 5 million people in the United States are adopted?
--Adopted children love their families, just like you do.
--Adopted children's families are forever.
--I think adoption is a great way to build families!
--My is adopted. I think it's great!

And finally, teach your adopted child to be W.I.S.E. By remembering the following, you are empowering your child to take control of potentially uncomfortable situations :
W - Walk away. That's right. Don't say a word--just walk away.
I - "It's private. I don't want to talk about it." Most people don't mean harm when they ask insensitive questions, but you get to choose if you want to talk about adoption - or not!
S- Share something. Give a quick answer, or share something about adoption, even if it's not a direct answer to the question.
E- Educate! People ask questions because they don't know the answers. Teach them about adoption in a positive way!

The questions that come up in our schools and community point to lessons about difference and tolerance that we all need to learn!

Adapted from an article by Marilyn Scholette, Director of Education and Publication for CASE - the Center for Adoption Support and Education. For more information, visit www.adoptionsupport.org

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