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Adopted Kids at School

If you adopted your child, you've no doubt had many talks with her about how you came to be a family. Now, at the start of the school year, it's time for another—with her teacher.

Even for a secure, well-adjusted kid, the idea of explaining—or being teased about—her family can be scary. Getting her teacher on her side can calm her fears. "We can't expect teachers to automatically know what to do," says Lois Melina, author of Raising Adopted Children. "It's up to parents to make it easier without overloading them with information." Here are her suggestions:

Ask about upcoming projects involving family trees or autobiographical stories, and discuss alternative ways the class might approach them that won't single out your child. Instead of bringing in baby pictures (which adoptees may not have), maybe the kids can draw pictures of themselves as babies or bring in recent photos.

Tell the teacher only what you want him to know. Neither he nor the other kids need to know every detail. Remind him that your child isn't an expert on adoption or on the country where she was born (if internationally adopted).

Recommend some reading. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute ( has an extensive resource guide for educators. Adoptive Families magazine ( has a handout that offers tips, as well as book recommendations for school libraries.