It's that time of year again, when my kids go back to school and bring their adoptions with them. In fact, my kids start school on WEDNESDAY -- how can summer be over already?!
Back to school for adoptive parents is more than backpacks and school shoes; we wonder and worry about how the school will handle a nontraditional family, how much information to share with teachers about our kids' backgrounds, whether the dreaded 'family tree' project will crop up this year, whether we've empowered our kids to handle intrusive questions and racial teasing. So I thought I'd do a round-up of back-to-school resources and tools for adoptive families over the next few weeks. If you know of some good ones, add them in the comments, please! Here are a few for starters:
SAFE at Schools -- A Manual for Teachers, Educators & School Counselors
This is a great resource for educators, designed to give them the tools they need to make school a safe learning environment for adopted children. A summary here, buy it here. I donated a copy to my kids' schools, and kept one for myself!
Adoption and the Schools
Here's the description: "From requests for baby pictures to the ubiquitous Family Tree assignment adopted children and their families face challenges and embarrassment in the classroom. FAIR (Families Adopting in Response) now offers help for parents and teachers. Adoption and the Schools: Resources for Parents and Teachers is a complete guide to understanding the dilemmas faced by adopted children in the school setting. It offers insights into the experiences of young people who are faced with assignments, activities and occasions which make participation difficult or painful simply because of the way they joined their family. Suggestions for expanding assignments, including adoption in every day classroom activities, and honoring differences in children and families are included. From pre-school through high school, adopted children’s understanding of adoption and the way it is perceived by teachers and classmates shapes their concept of who they are in the world." Available here.
A must-have workbook to help kids decide whether, when & how to share their adoption stories and respond to intrusive questions. The strategy works well with any issue that might lead to prying questions -- transracial/mixed-race family, single parent family, physical differences, etc. Available here & here.
Include these in your kids' school supplies, and consider donating a bunch to your kids' classrooms. If you recognize that bandaids aren't really your flesh-tones, these crayons give more options for a realistic world! The 8-pack colors are: black, sepia, peach, apricot, white, tan, mahogany, and burnt sienna. Great tool for discussion of skin/hair/eye color, race, and racism. Here they are at the Crayola website.
The Great Back-to-School Kit
From Adoptive Families, 17 "simple and effective ways to bring adoption into the classroom," from writing a letter to the teacher to reading stories about adoption to the class to helping teachers rethink sticky assignments.