As the new school year rolls around, your child will be meeting new teachers, classmates, and friends. For adoptive families, this is a great opportunity think about adoption and how to talk about it with other people.
While you won’t be by your child’s side during the school day, there are plenty of things you can do at home to encourage his or her positive understanding of adoption. By creating a strong foundation of honesty and openness about adoption, you will be able to help your child talk about adoption with people at school.
The tips provided here will not only strengthen communication between you and your child, but they will prepare your child to discuss adoption in the classroom environment.
Start young and explain more as time passes.
One of the most important habits you can keep is talking honestly and often about adoption, especially when your child is very young. Adoption is part of your child’s story, and communicating regularly about it will help your child not just to understand his or her story, but to be completely comfortable with it.
When your child is young, it is important to be truthful without addressing subjects that he or she can’t understand. As time passes, you and your child will be able to talk more about the complexities and subtleties of adoption.
But in the beginning, what matters most is making sure that your child feels confident about his or her story. Instead of feeling confused by adoption-related questions from others, he or she might even be the one who educates them about adoption.
Be open to talking – or not talking.
With time, your child may become the one to lead your conversations about adoption. When your child approaches you with questions, it may be because he or she read or heard something related to adoption at school. Be prepared to talk constructively about these situations with your child, and if someone has made a misguided comment, explain that not everyone knows what adoption is really like.
On the other hand, your child may not want to talk much about it at all. If this is because of feelings of insecurity, you may want to gently nudge him or her toward a conversation so that you can talk through the problem. If your child simply doesn’t feel the need to talk about it, though, don’t feel the need to force a discussion – let your child come to you.
Most importantly, adopted children need to know that their story is theirs to tell. By being comfortable with the subject at home, you will help your child to be comfortable at school, as well.
Address other people’s adoption questions appropriately.
When you and your child are together, you will undoubtedly find yourself discussing adoption with other adults – certainly family and friends, and sometimes acquaintances or even strangers. You are the primary role model for your child, and the way you respond to these situations will impact his or her own conversations in the future.
Oftentimes, well-meaning people may make inappropriate comments about adoption without realizing it. It can be easy to get irritated during moments like these, but instead, take the opportunity to correct the other person’s misunderstanding. Many kids come to school without knowing much about adoption, and the way you talk about misconceptions will have a direct effect on how your child talks to classmates.
Before you see your child to the bus stop, remember that healthy communications about adoption start at home. By talking openly with your child about adoption at home, you will give him or her the confidence to talk about it at school.