A child starting school is often a source of stress, but perhaps a bit moreso for parents of adopted children. Subjects and projects that may seem simple and commonplace for other students may be more difficult for your child. However, with a bit of planning, you can help prepare your child and their teacher for a happy, successful school year.
Speak with the Teacher
The first thing you should always do each year is speak with your child’s teacher. You can explain a bit about your family’s background, giving them the knowledge to help your child be successful in their class. You can explain the adoption-positive language you use (“place” for adoption instead of “give up”, “birth parents” and “adoptive parents” versus any variation on “real” parents, etc).
You can also let the teacher know that you hope to continue this dialogue throughout the year and that you will be available should they have any questions or encounter any difficult subjects.
Look Into Assignments
While speaking with the teacher, ask if they know of any assignments they plan to use that involve family history or culture that may be difficult for your child. If an assignment like this is in the plans, you can prepare for it ahead of time by
Ask About Donating Books
Consider donating some storybooks about adoption to the classroom. This can normalize conversations about different kinds of families and ensure that the topic of adoption is treated with care and sensitivity. It can also be a great way to demonstrate to your child that adoption is not something to hide or be ashamed about.
Talk to Your Child
No matter how great the teacher may be, there is a large variable that is difficult to account for: other children. Explain to your child that other children may make comments about why they don’t look like their family or why they “weren’t wanted”. You can explain why those children might say those things, and help them come up with some kid-friendly responses to explain their story and help the other children understand that different isn’t bad!
With all of these preparations, your child will be ready to take on the world of school, though of course it is important to keep up the dialogue with them throughout the school year. Making conversations about adoption and your family a normal part of your open and honest relationship will go a long way toward helping your child feel comfortable coming to you with any issues that arise at school.