Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let the Fun Begin (School Forms, That Is)

I was so excited to receive Miss E's packet of preschool paperwork a few weeks ago. As a teacher, I'm all about the backpacks, pencils, bulletin boards, and paperwork. Yes, I am a weird-o who enjoys paperwork. :)

Some of the paperwork reminds me how unique our family is. For one, we are asked to bring a family photo to our child's first day of school for a special project. I immediately started thinking, should I include one of us with Miss E's bio mom and siblings? (Husband says, no.)

Then I started filling out forms. One of which asks what else I can share that would help the teachers better understand my child. The first thing that popped into my mind after "very social" and a "strong leader" (yep, already, at 2.5 years old), was "adopted."

I don't want Miss E to be labeled as "adopted," yet it's so obvious. And, we are proudly an adoptive family. And because we have open adoptions, Miss E might be bringing up the names of birth family members to classmates and teachers. Should I clue those teachers in?

How much of an adopted child's life demonstrates they are unique and celebrated due to that uniqueness and how much of it makes them stand out "like a sore thumb" to where it becomes detrimental? And as an adoptive parent with a young child, what sort of standard or tradition do I set now, this early on, in terms of what we share with teachers?

Miss E proudly tells people, just as she did at the library yesterday to a 3 year old little girl, her name followed by, "I'm adopted!" :) She loves all the books we have on adoption, and in fact, knows, I would say for her age, a fair amount about race. She says, "I'm brown" and tells me that I'm "pink." She loves a new children's book which focuses on the Underground Railroad where the word "FREEDOM" is stated time and time again. (She walks around whispering it. So cute!)

I guess one of my fears is that if I don't share enough of Miss E's story, the general population (including educators) who are naive about adoption might try to "fill in" or teach Miss E something that isn't accurate or could even be offensive (unintentionally, of course). I want to, to some degree, beat them to the topic so I can, from the get-go, present adoption in a positive, confident way.

Maybe I just leave it up to Miss E. She's well-spoken for her age, oddly adult at times, and confident.

Perhaps I sit back and wait. See if there are questions or concerns. And if there aren't, fine. And if there are, fine.

I'd love to hear from experienced adoptive parents on this topic: your stories, your thoughts, your questions.

At the end of the day, we all want what is best for our children.


GREAT blog post on black hair. It's a letter-of-sorts to people who think they can touch a brown kid's hair. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!

Another great blog post from my friend Crystal whom I had the pleasure of meeting IRL last month. Forward the link on to family members and/or friends who try to make you feel "less than" because you are adopting.


And for my d-friends, some adventures in diabetes with pictures to support my drama. :)


Finally, this organization does some great things for kids. I hope you'll check it out and see if you qualify to host a child.


  1. We had the exact same question on our son's application for preschool. We decided to let the school know a little bit about his adoption. We have an open adoption with his birth family and he does talk about them a lot. I wanted to give the teachers a heads up about it I guess, so that they wouldn't be thrown off when he brings it up in class. And it also opens a door to talking about adoption with his teachers and possibly his classmates. When I answered that question, I also asked the teacher to let me know if they were planning on doing family tree projects or something similar so that I could prepare our son (and myself!).

    There is so much to think about when it comes to how much to tell others about your adoption, etc. For our family, we all look different and have a unique story and sometimes it's easier for us to start the adoption conversation than it is to handle the weirdness of someone else not knowing what to say or ask.

  2. thank you, rachel, for your reference to my "open letter" post. so glad you liked it. God bless! :-)

  3. At least she says you are pink. Sam says he is brown and the rest of the family is gray.

  4. I agree with what Sue has written. It's important to send a positive message about the fact that your child knows her adoption story (in the way that she's able to know it at her age) and that your family celebrates that adoption as well as the transracial nature of your family. When our son started school, my wife and I wanted the teachers and staff to understand that we wanted him to grow up proud of his heritage, not ashamed of it. Some folks (well-meaning folks) like to pretend they do not notice skin color, ethnic differences, etc.; the whole "I'm totally post-racial" thing. We wanted our son's school to know that we celebrate more than one culture in our family, and we hope the school celebrates a wide range of cultures. (I wish we could all take for granted that every school/preschool will do that, but I don't think we're at that point yet.)

    One other thought...One of the best pieces of advice I've received as an adoptive parent is that once I put a piece of information out there about my child's adoption story, it's OUT there, likely to be passed on to other teachers, other parents, other children. That idea has made me more discrete with the personal data we share--and as my son has gone through the elementary years, we've taught him that as well: "Your adoption is your story, and you get to decide what you wish to share and with whom; but something that you tell to a friend COULD end up getting shared with a third party, so consider that when you're making your decision." In other words, once something's out there, it's out there.

  5. My DD is going to preschool for the first time in the fall too, she is 3, also adopted, AA, and has contact through OA with her first family. My other children have attended this preschool for years, so they all know us. They "know" that we adopted our little munchie, but have never asked details.

    I just think that these days there are so many different types of families. You have your step families, grandparents raising grandkids, dad's or mom's girlfriend raising the kids, same sex families, interacial couples, foster families, etc...The family make up is not just mom/dad and two kids that match anymore. Everyone has a story. Do you know what I mean?

    I think for us, we just are not going to make a big issue of it with the school. If it comes up, great. If not, great. There is a difference between advocacy and giving out information that just is not relevant to the situation.

    DD knows she is brown and we are white. She knows she was born in Miss X's tummy. She knows she has a birth family that love her. But, do we focus on it 24/7? (not saying you do at all here.) She is just a little girl who happened to be adopted at birth. Her adoption status is past tense, not future or present. Does that make sense?

    I totally get where you are coming from though. It is sometimes, especially in new situations,difficult to find that balance between focusing on race and adoption with our kiddos. Plus on top of all that, your baby is going to school for the first time. Those are big steps for a Mama :)

  6. Mea's preschool did a home visit, prior to her actually starting school, and I did mention her adoption to her teacher at that time. Due to being adopted through foster care, there were a few differences in our story compared to yours.

    Mea does often talk about all her sisters and nieces and nephew, sisters way older then she is, two nieces older, and one niece and nephew younger, that Mea's teachers sometimes had a hard time understanding our whole family dymnamic. I get lost sometimes!

    Kids are the masters of the over share, I would say include what you feel comfortable with, and let Miss E fill in the rest.

  7. Thanks for the refernce to me and my blog. I'm also glad we got to meet IRL!!

  8. Hi! Just curious what Miss E's book on the Underground Railroad is called. THANKS!


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