A non-profit adoptive family support center
Serving families, professionals and educators since 1998

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Publications - More Information for Educators

How is adoption handled at YOUR school?

What do students (both adopted and non-adopted children) hear and see about adoption at your school? Is your school pro-active on this subject?

Every time something is on TV about adoption, kids ask me if that’s the way it happened to me . When I was little, they even thought I lived in an orphanage like Little Orphan Annie, and wanted to know if I had to clean all the time!

In 8th grade we had a unit on human development . We talked about sex, too . We were talking one day about teen pregnancy, and adoption came up . One kid said he thought any mother who gave away her kid was immoral .

In my school, kids aren’t supposed to say bad things about your race, but kids call me ‘Chinese eyes’ all the time and say I don’t look like my sister .

Adoption Today

For a long time, secrecy and stigma shut down any conversations about adoption . Today, with adoptive families on the increase and revolutionary changes occurring in adoption procedures and policies, everyone needs to have a broader understanding of this way of creating families . Research and experience have shown that openness and communication are beneficial to adopted children and teens .

  • There are more than 5 million adopted children and adults in the United States
  • More than 50,000 children in foster care are adopted each year
  • More than 20,000 children are adopted by Americans from other countries each year
  • 60% of Americans say they have some contact with adoption
  • ALL children need help understanding this common way of creating families

One result of more openness about adoption has been that much of what is being highlighted about adoption on TV, in the press or movies or books, or even in conversations is not representative of adoption in general . Some of the single stories that are publicized are upbeat, others are quite focused on sensationalizing the drama in very personal stories . No one has clearly identified appropriate language or acceptable boundaries to protect the privacy of adoptive families . It is easily understandable that young children who are not in adoptive families might find it difficult to feel comfortable about adoption, especially when adults are unsure about how to discuss it . Older students are likely to need help to gain sensitivity to both the complexities of placing children for adoption as well as the many benefits of adoption .

It is common for adopted students to be asked these questions at school:

  • Where is your natural mother? Why didn’t she want you?
  • Why were you adopted?
  • How do you know what you will look like when you grow up?
  • Are you going to try to find your real family?

Ask yourself: What would be the best thing to do or say if you overhear this in your school?

Research has shown that it is normal for children and teens who were adopted to have a wide variety of feelings and thoughts about adoption; sometimes those emotions impact school performance . In turn, they are often greatly affected by how others at school perceive adoption . There are many simple steps that schools can take to ensure that children receive positive feedback .

EDU7 February, 2008are needed to provide ALL children with a balanced, factual foundation of knowledge about adoption! The school environment can be a wonderful support for adopted children and their families . If educators are comfortable with the subject of adoption, there are many possibilities for helping students learn that adoptive families are permanent and real .

Teachers who are aware of the normal emotions of adopted kids can develop effective strategies to address some of the challenges they face at school, such as certain assignments and intrusive questions from others . Most importantly, educators are powerful adult role models who are in a position to easily and simply validate for all children that adoption is a good way to build families .

The five principles of S .A .F .E . are:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Accuracy
  3. Assignments
  4. Assistance
  5. Advocacy

Why is S .A .F .E . at Schoolsm important for ALL schools?

  • It addresses the need for students of all ages to gain a better understanding of adoption as a way to build families .
  • It provides strategies and language for educating children about adoption/adoptive families in simple and appropriate ways through opportunities that exist in every school (no lesson plans required!) .
  • It heightens awareness of the unique, but normal, challenges for children growing up in adoptive families, as well as suggestions for how to recognize and address when children need support .
  • It increases educators’ knowledge base about adoption today with facts, resources, and materials to share with other staff members .

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  Updated 24 January, 2008                 top See Our Privacy Statement | Contact Us