Family Helper > Post-adoption > Adoption Goes to School

Goes to School

By Robin Hilborn
Editor, Family Helper

First edition, 2004
$12 / ISBN 0-9733470-4-X



The challenge of school for the adopted child
School issues your child will face
You can help your child deal with racism
Should you tell the teacher?
You can give an adoption talk in class
Language development is key to school success
What are learning disabilities?
Detect learning disabilities early -- in kindergarten
How best to cope with your child's learning disability
Insight on learning disabilities from Dr. Brodzinsky
Accept your child's special needs
Getting special services for children with learning needs
Friendly school environments for the FAS child
Helping students with FAS
ADHD and the school system
Managing your ADHD child in school
Strategy for the effective parent advocate

MODULE 1   Many ways to make a family
MODULE 2   Many ways to create a child
MODULE 3   Biased class assignments -- and how to fix them
MODULE 4   Teaching the language of adoption
MODULE 5   How to introduce adoption in elementary school
MODULE 6   Answers for the pregnant student
MODULE 7   A suggested classroom presentation
MODULE 8   Research points the way
MODULE 9   Adoption resources for teachers and students
MODULE 10 Glossary: The ABCs of adoption

How to order Adoption Goes to School

This two-part guide will help you prepare your adopted child (and yourself) for school ... and teach the teacher all about adoption.

In the Parent's Guide, Robin Hilborn covers school issues, dealing with racism, telling the teacher, giving an adoption talk in school, language development and learning disabilities (diagnosis, strategies, services).

The Teacher's Guide aims to educate the educator, with lessons on the many non-traditional forms of families, creative approaches to the family tree assignment, proper adoption language, teaching adoption, pregnancy options for high schoolers, and many resources.

The selection of articles in "Adoption Goes to School" should help you, and your child, make a smooth transition from home to school. For more, see the excerpts below.

To order a copy, fill in this form and send with your cheque to: 220 Summerhill Rd., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada.

Please send me one copy of Adoption Goes to School (#45) I enclose a $12 cheque to "Robin Hilborn".
  Street address:

Price in Canada is Can$12. In the U.S., US$12. Elsewhere, US$18. Sorry, no credit cards (so no need to reveal card numbers).
Robin Hilborn is publisher of the Family Helper series.

Discount. Adoption Goes to School (#45) is also available at a discount ($9) when you order four or more titles from the Family Helper series. See the form at Family Helper, and choose the editions you'd like to order.


FROM "Part One: Parent's Guide"

The challenge of school for the adopted child

It's a big step from the home and daycare to the world of school, and for many parents it's a time when they hope their child will have a positive early experience of school.

Our children, who have come to us through adoption, sometimes have special issues when they start to move from the shelter of home into the community at large, especially at school. Their developmental readiness is influenced by their genetic makeup and past environmental influences.

Many of our children come from more diverse cultural and racial backgrounds than their peers and their immediate family. How the issue of adoption is handled in school lessons and by your child's peer group will shape her growing feelings around the fact of her adoption.

Unfortunately no matter how positively you've prepared your child about the realities of her adoption, society makes many assumptions which will impact you and your child in the most unexpected situations. Some of these unfortunate interactions can be prevented if you are proactive and understand where at school your child is most at risk for negative interactions. You need to be aware of your child's school curriculum to help the teacher use positive adoption language and to ensure that assignments which cover family life, family history, family tree and genetics truly include your child and all children.

Research shows that children adopted domestically and internationally are generally at a higher risk for learning difficulties, whether it is attention deficits, learning disabilities, fetal alcohol exposure or emotional/behavioral problems. This is due to various reasons, all beyond the adoptive parent's control, which usually happened before the adoption and in many cases were relatively unknown at the time of adoption.

The children's troubles don't stem from being "adopted" -- they would have had these learning difficulties whether they were raised by the biological or the adoptive parents.

So it's important to determine your child's school readiness and performance in Junior and Senior Kindergarten and if there are persistent concerns you should consider an early assessment. Don't let the fear of discovering learning disabilities make you deny your child's need for extra help.

The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome. When you identify and understand your child's learning disability early on, you can help prevent your child from losing self-esteem and from behavioural acting-out. ...

FROM "Part Two: Teacher's Guide"

Module 1 - Many ways to make a family

"Allow for non-traditional families in your lesson plans"

Kids today grow up in all sorts of family situations. Which of these describes the children in your class?

* A child living with mom and dad (parents by birth) ... the traditional family.

* A child raised by grandparents.

* A child of a single parent.

* A child of separated or divorced parents, living with one parent. If the parent remarries or enters a new relationship, the child gains a stepmother or stepfather.

* A foster child, with both foster parents and biological parents. Foster children who are moved from one foster home to another (very common) have had a series of foster parents.

* An adopted child has two sets of parents: biological parents and adoptive parents. The child often knows her birth parents and has contact with them (but some may not). Children adopted from abroad know little of their roots. Some older adoptees (especially teens) who never knew their birth parents seek to find them and know more about themselves, their birth family and, in transcultural adoptions, their birth culture.

* A child of a same-sex couple has two mothers or two fathers. The child may call her parents "my mother [father]" and "my other mother [father]". One of the couple may be the biological parent ... the child may result from donor insemination or from a previous relationship with a biological parent, who may or may not be in the picture. Alternatively, one of the couple, or both, may have adopted the child. Thus a child may have, for example, three mothers: a birth mother and two co-parenting adoptive mothers.

The days of the traditional nuclear family are long gone. You can no longer rely on lesson plans based on mom-dad-and-two-kids.

In fact, any class assignment which ignores the variety in families today does real harm to students who don't fit the traditional pattern and as a result feel out of place, even excluded, in class discussions.

Potentially biased assignments include family tree, family history and inherited traits. (See Module 3, Biased Class Assignments).

Luckily you can modify ill-thought-out assignments to make them more inclusive. They can be adapted and broadened to include children from non-traditional families. It's a road toward tolerance and understanding of all family forms.

How to order Adoption Goes to School

Infertility Adoption Adoption Resource Central Post-adoption Family Tree
Contact: Robin Hilborn,
220 Summerhill Rd., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
Copyright 2009 Robin Hilborn. All rights reserved
Updated   Apr. 13, 2009

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