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School and Adoption

Guest Author - Karen Ledbetter

One mom stated that while there was no problem with her sonīs preschool being aware of his adoptive status, things changed once he entered kindergarten. Around this time, academic and behavior problems arose. The young boy was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. Mom states that instead of seeing her son as a little boy who needed help with his learning differences, the school "professionals" often implied that her sonīs adoption caused his ADHD. By the time this little boy entered second grade, Mom decided not to mention his adoptive status to his teacher, feeling that her sonīs ADHD--instead of how their family was formed--would have a much bigger effect on his schoolwork.

Another family experienced negative adoption attitudes with a preschool. After their son spent several relatively uneventful months in preschool, the family was about to adopt their second child. Because of this, the mother elected to inform her sonīs preschool. Inappropriate questions and comments soon followed. The family was even asked why their sonīs birth mother had babies and then gave them away! When this little boy started having behavior problems relating to boredom, sibling rivalry, and an undiagnosed medical condition, the preschool grabbed the a-word and ran with it, labeling each incident, no matter how trivial, as adoption related. One teacher had the nerve to suggest that the childīs birth mother must have been addicted to alcohol or other drugs (she was not) and took it upon herself to diagnose the child with fetal alcohol syndrome, only to admit moments later that she knew absolutely nothing about FAS! When the little boy was enrolled in a new school, Mom and Dad chose not to volunteer information regarding his adoptive status.

Sharing or not sharing your childīs adoptive status with his/her school is a personal decision. Before eagerly sharing this information about your child, you may want to stop and ask yourself some questions:

? Why is the question on the registration form, and why would a school or preschool need to know this type of information?

? Is it absolutely necessary that my sonīs teachers know how he joined our family?

? Is the fact that we are an adoptive family relevant to my daughterīs academic success?

? If I include this information as part of my sonīs written record, who has access to it, and will they treat the information with professionalism and confidentiality?

? What are the realistic possibilities of my daughter being treated differently simply because of her adoptive status?

Thereīs a fine line between secrecy and privacy. If you choose to keep this type of information private, youīre not necessarily being secretive. Remember, once you share private information with anyone, you lose control of everything they do with it.


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Content copyright © 2014 by Karen Ledbetter. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Karen Ledbetter. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Deanna Kahler for details.

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