“I am calling because your daughter burst into tears in class today,” my daughter’s teacher said hesitatingly. “That really isn’t like her . . .”Be sure to go to the post to get the 8 tips!
The topic in school that day? Immigration. Beginning a new social studies unit, the teacher innocently asked her students where their ancestors had come from. As the only black child in her class, my daughter is herself an immigrant, moving to Canada from Haiti several years ago when we adopted her.
My mind swirled with all the complications that a question like this presented for a child in her circumstances, with the story of how African people first ended up in Haiti combined with the limited knowledge available about her birth family. Does she identify with the ancestors of her birth family or with those of her adoptive family? So many big questions for a nine year old to navigate! She felt overwhelmed, not surprisingly.
This is one example of the potential minefields waiting for foster and adopted children when they go to school. Other examples include inquiries about their “real” parents, the classic family tree diagram exercise and assignment to bring in a baby picture when foster/adoptive parents don’t have any. These children face a myriad of challenges that many other children do not face in school, on top of potential behavioural challenges due to being institutionalized and/or being abused or neglected.
2 weeks ago