Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Did You Tell Your Child's Teacher?

As my son transitioned to public school this year, I realized that I needed to inform his teachers that he was adopted. Up until this point, he’s been in the same center and they knew. I considered just letting it go, but here is why I didn’t…

Part of being a parent, is trying to stay in front of the issues. It doesn’t always work the way I want it to, but I definitely make the effort. I don’t believe that a teacher should change their lesson plans because my son is adopted, but I want her to be aware that projects can create potentially awkward questions.

When I was in elementary school, I had a project where we were supposed to bring a baby pictures to school and everyone was supposed to guess who the baby in the picture was. I was one of the few minorities (much less Asians) in the whole school district. It was not hard to figure out who I was in the picture and I remember that I was disappointed that everyone guessed me right away. I wasn't mad or upset, but I was definitely disappointed.

Another time, we had to tell where we were born. The teacher was putting pins in a map of the United States to show all the different places that people came from. It was harmless, except that I wasn’t born in the United States. As a child, I thrived on my differences. I loved to explain to people that I was born in Seoul, South Korea and adopted in the United States, but I can imagine what it would feel like if you didn’t like explaining your adoption.

Personally, I don’t want the teacher to change their plans. As a parent of an adopted child, I look at these projects as an opportunity to talk to my son about his adoption. So, I told my son’s teacher about his adoption for two reasons…(1) I wanted her to be aware. It only hurts my son if she is taken by surprise. (2) I want to be aware of projects that might create issues before they are given. It hurts all of us if my husband and I are not prepared for the discussion.


Peter Moran said...

In high school biology, we were doing a genetics project where we had to figure out our physical features and which were dominant and recessive genes and how it affected our eye and hair color, etc. I remember sitting out and reading during that project.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher (and a white parent of a Korean daughter), I'm glad you told your son's teacher. I think that some of the potentially awkward projects are still worth doing while keeping adoption in mind (for example, studying the different places kids were born). Other projects, like the baby picture one you describe, seem more like extras intended to be fun, are not fundamental to the curriculum, and should be dropped if they can cause pain to some kids. Whatever the project, teachers can and should benefit from considering its impact on different children in different circumstances.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of children that feels uneasey about that kind of school-projects (adoptees, foster parented children and so on). You might never know a persons background, så it is better not to do too much projects like this. You can do really fun projects anyway.
Greetings from Sweden

bathmate said...
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