I – like many children – had to endure the “studying” of our families and origins. I don’t think there have been many other times in which I’ve felt more uncomfortable as those moments when I was sitting on the classroom floor, listening to my teacher/s talk about origin and relatives. I remember wanting to just sink into a hole and die, while other kids around me eagerly raised their hands to tell the class about how they were born in Sydney and their Mums had them at such-and-such a time of the day; how they look like their Dads, but not their Mums; how their siblings both have blonde hair; how their parents cook food from their cultural heritages… bla bla bla bla bla. Now maybe I could have been the only one in the class, but it’s obvious that teachers bring up this topic with little consideration into any other kids that might be anything but “normal”. And what better way of making those kids feel even more ashamed of themselves than by focusing so heavily on the “normal”? (Whatever that is.) Seriously… isn’t that the last thing that children should feel: weird? The odd one out? Not normal? Not like everyone else?Breaks my heart.
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Honestly, I think my heart would break to know that a child I had (or was in my care as a teacher) had felt as though they just wanted to shrivel up and die simply from being at school: a place where they’re meant to feel safe, welcome and a valued member of the class community. Why should we feel condemned at such a young age simply from having been adopted? Sure, you may read this and think: ‘what’s the big deal? It’s just learning about family’, but when you’re five, six, seven… it’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal to realise that you’re not like those around you and that there’s something different about you. Something that makes you almost less of a person than them.
Still hoping for change
2 months ago