As your beloved child enters preschool, you may wonder if and how her adoption story belongs in the classroom. Should you tell the teacher your child was adopted? What adoption language do you want the teacher to know? Should you make a presentation to the class? No set answers work for all children. Each of us must decide how to best support our child’s preschool experience.
My two children, now teenagers, joined our family with different backgrounds, personalities, and learning needs. My son, born in Korea, was the only Asian child in his class. He was shy and didn’t want any attention focused on him, much less a classroom adoption talk. So, at the beginning of the year, I talked with his teacher about him and about the adoption language we used at home.
Even so, he was subjected to inappropriate classroom activities, such as a guessing game that involved matching each student to his baby picture. I responded by speaking with his teacher and then with my son privately at home. We avoided making him the center of attention while encouraging a positive approach to adoption in the preschool classroom.
My second child resembles me, with her blond hair and blue eyes. She was outgoing even as a preschooler and spoke openly about her adoption. Being assertive, she often handled situations in her own way — educating her peers in the process!
For extra support, I coached her teacher in how best to respond to her. For example, my daughter sometimes felt sad about her birth mother, especially around Mother’s Day. I alerted her teacher, mentioning that, at such times, she might need extra quiet time and a more watchful eye than usual.
What Does Your Child Need?
My children taught me the importance of considering their needs and solutions individually. Although I would have enjoyed doing a classroom presentation on adoption, it wasn’t the right thing for either of them. In fact, I recently asked several adoptive parents if they had done such a talk in preschool, and they all said no.
The consensus was that, instead, they needed to discuss with the teacher how to recognize and adapt any inappropriate curriculum and classroom activities, and monitor and correct negative student interactions regarding adoption. Several parents also provided their child’s preschool class with their favorite adoption-related storybooks.
As do all parents, we adoptive parents need to make sure our kids feel comfortable, confident, and supported in the school setting. To this end, some preschoolers will benefit from a classroom adoption talk, but others may need a quieter approach to bolster their resiliency. Your child’s self-esteem is precious, and you will know in your heart how to nurture it in a gentle and loving way.