Recently I was speaking on a panel to adoptive parents and one of them asked me what practical steps they could take to help their adopted children adjust in their new lives. I said one area I would like to see change is the vernacular in which teachers discuss adoption in their classrooms.
In my opinion, a child has as much choice in being adopted, as they do in choosing their gender and their race. This is to say, I think adoption should be talked about and discussed in the larger language framework of “diversity.”
This mother is well aware of the insensitive comments that teachers and students make when they have an internationally or domestically adopted child in their classrooms. She puts the responsibility on the parent to educate the teacher, not the other way around. I like that she believes in taking a proactive approach. I would think it would really advance the conversation that the teacher could eventually have with their students about their classmate who is adopted.
I really like the point she made that face-to-face contact is critical for the parents and the child. I’m unsure if my parents sat down specifically with my teachers on an individual basis, but I think it’s a great idea.
What do you all think about this? Is adoption something that should be talked about using the language of diversity? Anything you would add to the conversation?
AJ, as a parent who has gone into school to talk about adoption for the last 2 years, that is exactly the context in which I’ve presented it to the kids. I read Todd Parr’s THE FAMILY BOOK which is all about different kinds of families, and discuss adoption (at early grade schol level) as one way people become a family. In our neck of the woods this works really well, becuase we really have significant family diversity in our district – birth families, adoptive families, divorced families, step families, single parent families, two mom families, two dad families, families where kids are being raised by grandparents, single race families, multiracial families, extended family households…you get the picture. The kids LOVE to talk all about their own family constellation, because there are so many different ones that no one stands out.
Regarding the article, there is one point I take issue with. The sample answer she gives to the question about Sue’s real parents leaves me a little cold. My child has 2 sets of real parents – the set he knows and lives with and the set who he doesn’t know and who gave him life. We have always presented it to him as such, and to him that’s just another variation of family. He has grown up knowing many kids with two parents of the same gender or with step moms or step dads, so he makes no bones about telling people he also has two moms and two dads – a mom and dad here and a mom and dad in Kerala. And he has other adoptee friends who chime right in with “me too, in China/Ethiopia/Las Vegas/Republic of Georgia!” when it comes up in conversation.