Grade-schoolers are used to fielding one another's questions -- "When's your birthday?" and "What are you going to be when you grow up?" Finding out about themselves and others is certainly a top priority now, making them an especially inquisitive bunch.
For an adopted child, though, the queries can get pretty loaded -- "Why were you adopted?" or "Why don't you look like your mom and dad?" Some kids answer without batting an eye, while others, who don't want to make a big deal about the differences between them and their classmates, clam up.
Ways to help your child prepare for friends' questions:
- Put queries in perspective. Point out that while some of the questions might sound mean, friends asking usually just want to know what's up. Most kids (and adults, for that matter) haven't a clue about the particulars of adoption.
- Help her set boundaries. She shouldn't feel compelled to talk about her own adoption, no matter who's asking. Have her practice saying something like "That's my story, and I'd rather not share it." Let her know that it's okay to walk away if someone hounds her.
- Recruit an ally. You might give your child's teacher some information on adoption so he or she can gently and casually weave a lesson into the course of the school day.
- Give her the go-ahead to inform. If your child's eager to talk about being adopted, help her come up with things she can say to enlighten the misinformed, such as "Not all adopted kids come from China" or "Did you know that the comedian Jamie Foxx was adopted?" The more her peers understand about adoption, the better for everyone.