Has adoption come up in your child’s classroom? If so, describe the situation and tell us how you and your child handled it.
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On Her OwnMy daughter, who was adopted from China, received an assignment that was clearly designed to highlight biology. Students were given a list of physical traits (e.g., attached or non-attached earlobe), each of which had a point value. The students were to tally up the traits and compare the scores, zero to 100, for each family member.
In a rare show of restraint, I asked my daughter how she wanted to handle the assignment instead of firing off an angry e-mail. She simply wanted to do the exercise on our family. (As it turned out, she and our Vietnamese son both “scored” 61, while I scored a 20.) My daughter was fascinated with the results.
Elementary school is the time to fight for sensitive treatment. Then, by middle school, our kids will be able to handle things on their own, and we should enjoy watching them do it.
Yes, That’s My MotherI often find that my daughter handles with ease situations that pose potential challenges. For example, one day, when I arrived to pick her up from kindergarten, a classmate said, “That’s your mother? I thought you were Chinese.” I thought Lucy would be taken aback by the comment and that we would need to talk about it. I prepared to intervene. Instead, without my saying a word, she took my hand and responded, “Yes, that’s my mother and I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean.”
—Anna Marie Bonafide
Raena, New York
An "A" for AdoptionWe fost/adopted our daughter after she had lived in our home for almost two years. On her adoption day, she knew that I would be picking her up from school for the drive to the courthouse. I arrived with a celebratory cake and the children's book "A" is for Adoption. Anna shared cake with her classmates, I read the book and then (with her permission) I told Anna's story. It started like this, "Not all kids find their real family right away..." By the time it was over the children had a better understanding of adoption, Anna felt proud of her exciting day, and the teacher was in tears!
Prying GameKnowing they were both adopted, my daughter’s teacher pressed me about my children’s resemblance. I relented and told her they were biologically related. For weeks, teachers approached me with comments like, “How could someone get pregnant like that again?” and “Thank God they have each other.”
While our family will always provide the support and openness our kids need to thrive, I worry that the rest of the world won’t be able to because they don’t know how.
Blaming AdoptionAfter my son’s school learned that he had been adopted, everything became an adoption issue. His teacher asked me how much alcohol his “real mother” had consumed (not “if,” but “how much”) while pregnant, and blamed his acting up on adoption. When he cried for Mommy, she called to tell me that he missed his “real mother.”
I haven’t mentioned adoption at school since then because I don’t want teachers to keep “blaming” it.
Clifton, New Jersey
Owning Her StoryWhen my older daughter decided that she wanted to be the one to tell people that she was adopted, I realized how much I had appeared to tie adoption to her identity.
When her teacher overheard her telling another girl, she admonished my daughter not to make up stories. Later, she discovered that it was true, and felt that I should have told her, but I still think I was right in respecting my daughter’s request.
A MisunderstandingWhen our 5-year-old daughter proudly announced to her class that her little brother was coming from Korea, the kids were excited, but clearly didn’t really understand what this meant. When she displayed his photo, they were shocked, and bombarded her with questions. “Why is he Chinese?” “Why didn’t your mommy have more babies from her tummy?” She wasn’t prepared for so many questions.
Story TimeMy daughter’s teacher called one evening to tell me that she would be reading Cinderella in class. Puzzled, I asked who else she was contacting. She was calling me and another adopted child’s parents. I didn’t understand why we should know in advance. “Well…the story is about a wicked stepmother. I don’t want to embarrass your daughter.”
I took a deep breath (trying not to laugh) and said that I was not my daughter’s stepmother, I was not wicked, and that I was sure that my daughter would not be embarrassed by listening to Cinderella.
San Mateo, California
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