Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Multiracial Adoptive Family's Back-to-School Guide

I cannot believe our summer break is wrapping up, and my kids are headed back-to-school! Did your summer fly by like ours did? And how in the world is your back-to-school prep going? 

πŸ¦„ float. ☀️ hat. Summer life = good life. πŸ’™ If you would have told me 13 years ago that at my lowest low, in the ICU fighting for my life, that my future would hold four precious kids whom I was chosen to be their mom, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you would have told me I would be a WAHM, writing and speaking about adoption, race, faith, motherhood, and health, I would have laughed. If you would have told me that after adopting a fourth child, I’d have a mastectomy while my baby was still an infant, I would have been horrified. πŸ’™ God can turn things around in a split second. He has for me, time and time again. πŸ’™ What was your second chance? πŸ‘‡πŸ½πŸ‘‡πŸΎπŸ‘‡πŸΏ . . . #type1diabetes #breastcancersurvivor #secondchances #faithoverfear #whitesugarbrownsugar #adoption #multiracialfamily #chosen #summerbreak #summer #bigfamilylife #mom #writer #adoption #melaninpoppin #thursdaymotivation #throwbackthursday #thursdaythoughts
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This time of year always brings about anxiety and excitement for both parents and kids. For us, big changes are coming this year! Make sure to check in with me on Facebook and Instagram, where I'll share what's going on!

So, here we are. A fresh year. And if you're like me, your mind is going non-stop about all the details (school supplies, forms, adjustments) and the big issues that we're ALWAYS facing. Here's some of the issues multiracial and adoptive families are concerned with, and what we can do about them:

1: Connection.

It's so, so, so important for our kids to feel loved and secure. This, of course, stems from connection and attachment. When we understand concepts from The Connected Child and The Whole Brain Child (two of my favorite books!), we rightfully worry how connection is going to play out at school for our children. 

What do we do when our kids aren't with us? First, I think we work hard to connect with our kids before school and after school. We give them our eyes, ears, arms, and hearts. A family dinner or snack (no screens) can go a long way. Bedtime with cuddle and stories can also be helpful. And on the weekends, schedule one-on-one dates with your children. I'm also a big-believer in not over-scheduling children. Often, less is more, especially during the dreaded back-to-school adjustment period.

As far as while your children are at school. I have lots of friends who are educators. I believe that informing your child's teacher of your child's love language, "currency" (what motivates him/her), and a general description of your child's needs (trauma background?) can be helpful. Teachers have told me that more information is GOOD. They can't work with what they do not know! And check-in with the teacher often.

2: Names.

Giving teachers grace is important. They are overworked and underpaid. However, it's really important that they, in a timely manner, get our kids' names right. Your child should not have to shorten or alter their name in any way to make it "easier" for others. And no, not all Black kids look alike, so stop mixing them up!

Teach your child to respectfully correct people who mispronounce their name. The sooner they speak up, the better! 

3: Family projects.

Whether it's a basic biology lesson on how eye color or blood type is determined, or it's a project pertaining to one's family tree, race/ethnicity, or a timeline project, projects involving family can be complicated, hurtful, and humiliating for some kids.

If a project like this comes up, speak up. You can even share this article on why such family projects are problematic for adoptees (though not limited to adoptees). It is possible your child can alter the assignment to fit his/her situation; however, not all kids can or are comfortable doing so.  

Work with your child to see what he/she would prefer you do (or don't do) should an assignment or project come up this year.

4: Race.

Let's just get one thing straight right now. Colorblindness isn't real. Therefore, it does no one any good to live in some universe where we pretend it is. It's especially important that our children are seen for who they are. Celebrated and acknowledged.  

Teachers need to see race. They need to be inclusive. Conversations need to happen. 

I always like to donate items to my kids' classrooms that promote diversity. These include multicultural crayons, markers, or colored pencils, skin tone bandages, skin tone paper, and of course, books. You can offer to read to your child's class, choosing a diverse book or two. 

5: Adoption.

Yes, I tell my children's teachers that my kids were adopted. I also share about open adoption (because my kids will talk about their birth families). Lastly, I encourage teachers to ask me questions. This is a great adoption book to gift your child's teacher.

Do I share intimate, private details? Absolutely not. But I want to open the lines of communication, partnering with my child's teacher. Because adoption is an important part of my child's life. 

How do you share? Well, you can write an e-mail or have an in-person convo. You can also check-in mid-year to see how things are going. Donate adoption books the the classroom if your child is OK with it.

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