Do Teachers Need to know your Child is Adopted?


It’s the beginning of the school year. Should you share with new teachers about your child being adopted? According to Lois Ruskai Melina in Raising Adopted Children, a child’s adoption status is part of his social history and should be shared with the professionals working with an adoptee, including teachers.

Personally, if a child had been adopted as a newborn, this may not be such a big issue. However, even if the child was younger than a year at adoption, there still may be some underlying issues that will need to be addressed.

My two kids were adopted from Russian orphanages at ages 5 and 10. If you were to walk into their classroom, would you be able to pick them out? No…they look and act like every other kid in their class. However, a teacher working with them for 5+ hours a day may notice things about them that she might question if she didn’t know they once lived in an orphanage.

For example, Alex is 10…a very proud of it! He will ask total strangers if they can guess how old he is. I realize that this poor person will probably guess an age younger than 10 because he looks and acts about 8. Most people handle it well and tell him how lucky he is to be 10 and he then runs off happily. After evaluation from an endroconologist it was pointed out that he is developing normally but has a 2 yr. delay…most likely due to poor nutrition. Tania is 15 and stands 5’3…not exactly tall, at least in this TALL Mumm household…so they genetically may have had shorter birthparents as well. Alex seems to have that ‘2 year delay’ across the board…emotionally, developmentally and with learning…all about 2 years delayed. This is not the end of the world and he is a delightful boy otherwise. But I think a teacher should know why he acts like he does.

There are other reasons why a teacher should know about adoption. Here they are:
* Learning and development issues due to life before adoption.
* Class assignments relating to family trees, genetics, or bringing in a baby photo.
* Child may have irrational fears or poor socialization skills that stem from orphanage life.

One must never assume that teachers understand Adoption or what life in an orphanage may be like. I had an adult question me why my 10 yr. old daughter didn’t know how to swim or ride a bike. When I mentioned she had just been adopted and used to live in an orphanage she looked at me like, “So?” I then had to explain that an orphanage is not a country club or an after-school program. The kids do not learn to ride bikes as they have no bikes. They are not taken to lakes or pools to learn to swim either. It was an orphanage and they were lucky to have clothes on their back and food on the table. The woman appeared shocked.

So…if you are an adoptive parent…how much will you share with your child’s teacher about their adoption?

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach
Everything for Adoption

Alex & his friend Nyka

Alex & his friend Nyka

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