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Q: My oldest daughter (born in Asia) is going into second grade in a new town, much smaller and less diverse than the one we moved from. I would like to offer information on adoption to her school and give adoption talks in the classroom. However, my daughter seems embarrassed by the idea and by talking about adoption. How can I approach giving an adoption talk in the classroom—both with the school and with my daughter?
—A reader in Massachusetts
A: You may have the opportunity to visit the school on or before the first day to donate a good adoption book or two to the library. That visit could also serve as an opportunity to volunteer. When you are seen as a helper, teachers are more open to suggestions. As you get to know them, you might share articles about adoption language or ideas about alternative assignments. Take along printed materials (see suggestions below) to leave with teachers as samples. If your approach to adoption education is broadened to include other non-traditional families, your daughter’s “difference” can be minimized. Respect for your daughter’s wishes is very important, so you may choose not to do an adoption presentation in her classroom and opt instead to volunteer in another class when they are studying family life or Asia
—Nancy Ng, Families Adopting in Response (FAIR)
Q: I send letters with pictures to my children’s birthparents via our adoption agencies. Their birthparents haven’t asked to see the letters yet, but we continue to hope that they will. It’s easy to write about my children's successes, but how much do I say about our parenting challenges, family therapy, or my successful struggle with cancer? I want my letters to be truthful; I don't want them to sound like boastful Christmas letters either. What do birthparents want to know in the letters I write—especially those who aren't closely in touch?
— A reader in Wisconsin
A:I believe that honesty, in any relationship, is the best policy. You are trying to build a relationship with your children’s birthparents. Assume that one day you will meet.
Of course, you need not bare all either. In a semi-open adoption, it is important to share the events and challenges that affect the life of the adopted child. Write about how the family is facing these challenges and how your child is coping. Ups and downs are a part of everyone’s life. Few birthparents expect their child’s life to be perfect. What will reassure them is knowing that challenges are being handled in a healthy way. When, or if, there is contact, your letters will provide a strong foundation for a relationship.
—Brenda Romanchik, Insight: Open Adoption Resources & Support (www.openadoptioninsight.org)
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