Most children will be going back to school this week, signaling the end of another fun summer. Adoption STAR wants to make sure your children are prepared for the new school year. Adoption can be a sensitive topic for children at school and it’s important to speak with your children about how they may answer questions about their adoption journey. It may also be necessary to speak with teachers about making certain projects and assignments “adoption friendly.”
Here are some great ideas to make sure your kid has a successful school year:
– Read an adoption storybook to the class during story time – this is a great way to introduce the topic of adoption to young children. If you would like, an Adoption STAR staff member would be more then happy to come read to the class as well. This would be a perfect project for National Adoption Month in November. For more information on inviting Adoption STAR to your child(ren)’s class for story time, you can email the agency or call (716)639-3900.
Some of our favorite adoption children’s books include:
– All About Adoption – Marc Nemiroff – This introductory book explains adoption and explores different feelings children may experience as they grow.
– How I was Adopted – Joanna Cole – This well known children’s book is notable within adoption literature for beginning with and explaining birth.
– A Mother for Choco – Keiko Kasaza – A little bird searches for a mother and is welcomed into Mrs. Bear’s home. This sweet story is very reassuring for young kids.
– Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born – Jamie Lee Curtis – This now-classic tale is less didactic than most adoption books. The storyline is sure to capture all kid’s interest.
– Arm your child with answers to questions he/she may be asked in class or on the playground. Your child may want to give answers, depending on his/her mood. Here are a few options you can propose:
Q: “Where do you come from?”
A: “What do you mean? Are you asking where I was born or where I live?”
A: “New York”
Q: “Is that your real mother?”
A: “Yes. She dropped me off at school today.”
A: “Do you mean my birth mother? I don’t live with my birth mother.”
Q: Why didn’t your real mother want you?
A: “Are you asking why I was placed for adoption?”
A: “My birth mother couldn’t take care of me, but she made sure I was adopted by my parents.”
Q: “Why don’t you speak Chinese?”
A: “I am American like you, so I speak English.”
– Help teachers re-think sticky assignments – Some projects that are designed to explore a child’s past may be difficult for adoptees. You can encourage your child’s teacher to present several options to the entire class, not just your child. A few ideas for inclusive projects include:
– Family Tree – Instead of drawing the traditional family trees, which may be complicated in an open adoption, students can draw themselves on the trunk of a tree and someone whom they love on each branch, regardless of biological or adoptive relationships. Another family tree project may be to have kids place the names of adoptive family members in the branches of a tree and birth family members in its roots.
– Timeline – Instead of starting with their birthdates, children can cite memorable events from each calendar year they’ve been alive; older students can create a timeline that includes a national or world event from each year they’ve been alive.
– Star of the Week – Instead of baby photos, students can bring in photographs of themselves from one or two years ago, to display how much they’ve grown over the last year.
You can find these ideas, and many more for preparing your kids for school, at Adoption STAR’s “The Great Back-to-School Kit.”