Publications - More Information for Educators
How is adoption handled at YOUR
What do students (both adopted and non-adopted children) hear and
see about adoption at your school? Is your school pro-active on this
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 .
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
- 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
- Where is your natural mother? Why didn’t she want
- Why were you adopted?
- How do you know what you will look like when you grow
- 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:
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 .