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How to Get Your School on Board

Help get your school ready for your child.by Barbara Turvett



As parents, we do all we can to help ready our children for school. For adoptive parents, preparation often includes anticipating questions about our families and insensitive comments about adoption. Since we can't be there to handle these tricky questions ourselves, the best way to prepare our children for school may be to prepare the school for our children.

To this end, some parents talk with teachers and donate books to school libraries. But wouldn't it be great if the entire school staff were educated in making adoption an integral part of school life? Many organizations think so and offer programs to do just that.

At the forefront of this challenge is C.A.S.E. Their S.A.F.E. at Schools (Support for Adoptive Families by Educators) program offers a foundation of adoption information. "We've presented workshops for thousands of teachers in the Washington, D.C., area," says Marilyn Shoettle, director of education at the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.), in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Then, we decided to reach out to the rest of the country." They developed a manual, so that a counselor can learn the material and train personnel at any school.

Similar programs and materials have been developed by other advocacy organizations. Spence-Chapin agency in New York City created Adoption Awareness for Educators, which includes staff development workshops at schools. California-based Families Adopting in Response (FAIR) offers a comprehensive book, Adoption and the Schools: Resources for Parents and Teachers. And the Institute for Adoption Information in Vermont has prepared An Educator's Guide to Adoption.

Yes, we do a lot to ready our children for school. And now we can ready schools for our children by offering resources to help educate schools about adoption—and its valuable place in the world.

Barbara Turvett edits the "Growing Up Adopted" section of Adoptive Families. Her 9-year-old daughter was adopted from China.


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