Ask AF: An Invasive Assignment

How can our children be expect to write reports about their births?

Q: My 12-year-old son received an assignment in health class to write a report about birth, including his mom’s feelings about pregnancy and facts about his birth. We feel that what little information we have about his birth family (a photo of his birth mom breastfeeding him) is private.

My son wants to explain to the teacher himself that he can’t complete much of this report, though I wonder if it would be better for me to speak to the teacher.


A: This is a new one! While middle schoolers are capable of dealing directly with their teachers, this situation begs for parental input. Applaud your son’s courage in wanting to negotiate with his teacher, but explain that, in this situation, you need to intervene so that he — and other students who are unable to complete the project — can benefit.

Next, schedule a face-to-face meeting with the teacher. Preface the conversation with your appreciation for his/her time. Then, inquire about the educational goals for this project.

Be prepared to offer alternatives that achieve the same ends. [Consult the resources on AF for ideas!] It is important to convey that many other students might have difficulty with this assignment.

This was clearly an unfortunate assignment, but it could spark a family discussion about your son’s birth and adoption. Good luck!