Talking to Teachers About Adoption – What You Need to Know

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It’s that time of year again!

New teachers, packing lunches, waiting for the bus and homework are all part of settling back into the school routine. It can be a stressful time for both parents and children, especially when trying to meet and get to know your child’s new teacher.

You may be wondering how much to share with them about your family history and the best ways to discuss and encourage conversations about adoption in the classroom.

While you and your child may decide to keep some (or all) of your child’s background private, there are many different ideas that you can discuss with your child’s teacher about your adoption, without having to share personal information. Having these conversations with their new teacher about about adoption can help your child to be comfortable and succeed in their new classroom.

How to have the 'adoption talk' with your child's new school teacherClick To Tweet

What should I discuss with my child’s teacher?

Explain your family on your terms.

Initiating a conversation about adoption with your child’s teacher lets you talk about your family using your own terms and on your own time.

Often people that don’t know how to talk about adoption can make statements or ask questions that sound insensitive or inappropriate. The same is true for your child’s teacher – they may not necessarily know how to talk about adoption and they could make some insensitive comments to you or your child.

By having an open and honest conversation about your family, you can give them the language you prefer to use to talk about your family, explain what the teacher should expect when talking about family to your child, and address any specific situations that may apply to your child that could affect their performance in school.

Reaching out to your child’s teacher and engaging with them early in the school year lets you explain these ideas before a problem could arise, and will hopefully let you avoid some of those future insensitive conversations.

Be clear about your child’s needs.

You know your child’s capabilities and needs best. It’s also important to share anything that may affect your child’s learning with their teacher, so they can provide the best learning environment possible for your child.

If your child has behavioral issues, learning gaps, or may need some special attention, discussing this information with the teacher up front can let them know what to expect and make the new school year transition a lot easier.

Keep in mind that teachers also have to juggle the needs of the 20-30 other students in their classroom, and do not necessarily have time to cater directly to the needs of 30 different students. Being honest with your child’s teacher, however, can quickly help them prepare to address the needs of all their students.

Be honest with your child's teacher when you talk about adoption #talkingaboutadoptionClick To Tweet

Spread awareness about difficult classwork.

Assignments such as bringing in baby pictures, family trees, and genetic histories can be tricky for adoptees.

Share with your child’s teacher why it may not be possible for your child to complete these types of assignments and discuss ways to make these projects more inclusive for all of the students in the classroom.

For example, if your child’s teacher assigns an autobiography assignment, suggest different writing topics that don’t require students to write about their early years. Instead of bringing in baby pictures, you could suggest that teachers ask students to bring in photos of them doing something they enjoy, like a hobby.

You can also use these assignments as ways to initiate discussions about adoption in the classroom. If a teacher assigns a project like this, you can use it as an opportunity to talk about the many ways in which families can come together.

Promote a positive classroom environment.

It’s possible that the issue of adoption will come up in the classroom between your child and other students.

Discuss with your child’s teacher ways to positively talk about adoption with other children, and encourage classroom conversations about awareness and acceptance of different types of families. You can suggest that teachers incorporate adoption-friendly ideas into their lesson plans and make their curriculum more inclusive.

If a busy teacher doesn’t have the time to do their own research, offer to supply some resources for them to use in the classroom such as great children’s books that cover the topic.

There are many excellent books out there that would be great to gift teachers. Take a look at “In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You to Know About Adoption”. Be sure to check out the Tapestry Book’s full library of resources on educating others about adoption.

Some teachers may also be interested in having parents come in and talk about adoption in the classroom. If this is something you’d be comfortable doing, offer to attend your child’s class to share ideas about adoption. Offer to read a book about adoption for younger children, or run a panel for older children.

Build a community network.

These conversations don’t have to end with talking to your child’s teacher. Work with them and other parents to create a network of families.

Meeting the parents of other students and engaging with others can be a great way to build connections, increase awareness and encourage conversations about adoption in your school community. Work with your child’s teacher or find other community members who are interested in talking to children and parents about promoting greater tolerance for all different types of families.

What is the best way to talk to teachers about adoption?

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what is best for you and your family when you have these conversations.

Speaking to your child’s teacher in person lets you have face-to-face contact and to directly answer any questions they may have.

Busy open houses and school event nights may not be the best time for this, so instead, reach out to your child’s teacher to arrange an after-school parent-teacher conference or meeting.

If you prefer to contact your teacher through writing, sending an email or letter can also be helpful. This allows the teacher to keep the conversation on file and refer back to it later.

The most important thing to remember is to make sure to maintain an open and honest relationship between you and your child’s teacher, and encourage them to reach out to you with any questions they may have in the future.

Over to you

What do you think? What are your experiences in your school community and talking to your child’s teacher about adoption?

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