Parent-to-Parent: Talking with the Teacher About Adoption

Parents weigh in on talking with their child's teacher and sharing resources at the start of a new school year.

Parents weigh in on talking with the teacher about adoption

On our Facebook page (, we asked readers, Will you be letting your child’s teacher know that your child was adopted this school year? Why or why not? Here’s what you said:



“My children’s early trauma had a tremendous impact on their sense of safety, their health, and their learning. I tell, and teachers, admin, and school staff have always been wonderfully supportive and thoughtful. As a teacher, I believe ‘more is better’ when it comes to getting to know the kids. I always called parents early in the year to introduce myself and ask, ‘Is there anything you might want me to know about your kid?’ You’d be surprised how happy parents were to hear that, and these conversations always gave me great insights.” —ADRIENNE

“I just told my child’s pre-K teacher yesterday. She has an open adoption and talks about her biological family, and I wanted her teacher to be aware. Also, lately, she’s been dealing with feelings of loss, anxiety about her birth mom’s not being able to raise her and fear of my ‘not keeping her,’ so I wanted her teacher to be in the know.” —ANGELA

“We told the preschool teachers because it explained some of our daughter’s behaviors. Additionally, it allowed us to opt out of their using pictures of our child on social media/their website (this is important for our situation).” —LISA

“I’d love to say, ‘No, it’s my children’s story to tell, not mine,’ and just let them be typical kids—but they aren’t typical kids, and pretending that they are can set them up for failure in school. I send the teachers letters of introduction before the school year starts. They can read it at their convenience, and then I schedule a conference to answer any questions they have and go over time-tested strategies.” —MICHELLE

“Yes, and, even so, teachers may still need reminders. In high school, my daughter’s biology class was learning about DNA. Her teacher called me and said she was having a hard time. I said, “You do know she is adopted.” The teacher said yes, so I said, “This lesson about DNA is a reminder of her biological family, so that’s why she’s having problems.” The teacher’s response: ‘Oh.’ ” —KATHIE

“Absolutely! And, because I’m a Type-A control freak, I even give them our ‘approved’ talking points and the language we use. I let teachers know that we talk about adoption very matter-of-factly and don’t shy away from hard questions.” —SUZIE

“I e-mail the teacher after ‘Meet the Teacher’ night. I have found it helpful for the teacher to be able to understand some behaviors and also to support my child if she gets picked on or has meltdowns for no apparent reason. They have always been receptive and thanked me.” —CINDI

“Yes, because I think certain assignments will need to be handled differently for my adopted children. As a teacher, it’s something I would like to know, so that I could handle conversations about family with sensitivity or help explain diverse families to all the students.” —ERIN


Yes, on an As-Needed Basis

“Not unless it is necessary. If my son wants to talk about it, he can. We haven’t had any family projects come up yet. But when they do, I’ll be curious to see how he handles them.” —MICHELLE

“I only provide that information if it’s a necessity for the well-being of my child(ren). Most of the time I feel it’s irrelevant, as I don’t want a teacher to pity my children or give them concessions only because they were adopted. Our recently adopted son’s school knows for his IEP, but nothing beyond that.” —SHANA

“We told the school the year of our children’s finalizations and name changes, because they happened mid-year, but we haven’t mentioned it since.” —SABRINA


I Let My Children Decide

“I have always left it to my daughter; she is proud that she is adopted. Today she started a new school and announced it to the class when the teacher had them explain why their parents gave them their name. She said, ‘I don’t know, because I was adopted when I was three and I already had this name.” —JEN

“My daughter and I look very different, so it was probably assumed. I never made it a point to talk to the school about it, but we were always very open if adoption came up in conversation. My daughter, who’s now 23, was always comfortable with being adopted, so, more often than not, she was the one who told the teacher.” —MARY

“I asked my five-year-old and she told me she didn’t want me to for now—to wait until there is a family project where it would come up.” —KAREN

“Not anymore. We are transitioning to the stage when it’s his story to tell, if he wants to. At this point, only his doctor ‘needs’ to know.” —DAISY

“My kids usually tell because they are proud of their journey. And because, when teachers ask, “How many siblings do you have?” not many kids these days say ‘Nine.’ I do speak up if there is an assignment that reflects on their timeline.” —TONYA


I Wish I Hadn’t

“My son was bullied by his kindergarten teacher after she found out he was adopted. She actually said to me in a conference, ‘All adopted kids are messed up.’ The principal finally stepped in and my son was moved to a different class. The school let that teacher go, but not until the end of the school year. I regret my son’s kindergarten year.” —LORRI

“I made the mistake of telling the preschool that my son was adopted and that his biological parents lived nearby. I explained this for my child’s safety—and their response was that I had to bring in paperwork to prove the adoption, and that, if his birth parents were to show up at the school, they would be able to take my son with them. We eventually had to get our attorney involved.” —AMY


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