Wednesday, August 22, 2018
SCHOOL: TO SHARE OR NOT TO SHARE
School is around the corner and I am getting increased calls and emails about sharing adoption with teachers, daycare providers and/or after school programs.
There are several approaches to take - you can share all, share nothing or share on an as needed basis. The decision is yours.
Sharing everything does not mean providing details of your child's background or the circumstances of the adoption placement. It means telling those caring for or interacting with your child that your child joined your family through adoption. It is a way to alert them that your child may mention adoption, that another child may ask questions or classroom work or assignments may raise specific questions or responses from your child relating to adoption.
Sharing nothing means your child is on their own to respond to questions or comments coming from peers or adults. It means you will not be notified when a classroom discussion may include family formation such as family trees, genetic or sex education talks when kids are older or even just talk among the children. If you decide this is the way you want to go, you should prepare your child as to what to share, how to respond if the topic comes up and when to come to you if something occurs at school. It is also important to make sure your child understands the difference between privacy and secrecy. It is not a secret (nothing is wrong) that they were adopted. However, it is information that they may choose to keep private.
Sharing on an as needed basis means you will need to carefully monitor what is going on at school and with your child’s peers. If your child mentions the adoption, you need to be prepared to answer questions. Again, you do not need to share personal histories - only that yes, your family was built through adoption.
Mostly, school means there will be questions from your child's peers or their parents. Some will be curious, some may be thinking of adopting themselves. What you share should be generic in nature, about the process - not about your child's history.
In the classroom itself, your sharing any information should be based on what is needed to provide your child with not only the best education but a comfortable environment. Your sharing should also include an assessment of the knowledge and preparedness of the caretakers and teachers to respond and to inform you of upcoming events and to ask you for guidance if needed.
Perhaps, you can read a book or come in to discuss adoption with the class. I have been asked to speak to teachers or classmates in the past when information about adoption is needed, and the family does not want to take on that role. However you do it, make sure your child has all the support he or she needs.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL