Adoption · Linkup

To Tell or not to Tell – THAT is the Question


Erin’s Adoption Talk Linkup theme today is School and Adoption Sensitivity.* Visit No Bohns About It if you would like to participate and/or read other adoption blogs.

I was thinking about this the other day. I assume all adoptive parents whose children started school over the last week have been thinking about it.

And it isn’t only this year; I think about it every school year.

Like when Payten did her Family Tree in first grade. How do we include her biological family? WHERE do we include her biological family? The sheet they sent home only has two sides to the tree!

Paige is in first grade this year and we’re going to go through it all again.

In second grade Payten did an ancestor report. She could learn about my husband’s family, my family, or her biological maternal grandmother’s family.* We let her pick and she chose my husband’s mom. (I was kinda bummed; I hoped she’d choose her biological grandmother so I could learn more about her family history!)

First day of school 2015.

My daughters are White, like my husband and I. Payten has my hair color. Paige’s hair color is the same as Eli’s, our biological son. Like me, the girls are short, and have long hair without bangs. In this respect, you cannot tell by looking at us that they are adopted. 

The tricky part is this: Do my husband and I tell the teachers about our daughters’ unique needs?

We are blessed to live in a neighborhood with an excellent school. There is a high level of parent participation and the teachers have less stress. They don’t hesitate to take time for an extra meeting.

But as the years progress and my girls mature, when should we stop having discussions with the teachers?

Anxiety runs in Paige’s biological family; however, her mother also abused Klonopin during pregnancy… I am also betting Paige’s Sensory Processing Disorder could be attributed, at least in part, to her exposure to drugs in utero.

Payten has Reactive Attachment Disorder, which we know for certain is the product of her tumultuous first years of her life.

But both girls are maturing. They are getting ahold of their fears and feelings, and with therapy they are learning how to handle them.

This year we are faced with the same challenge – to tell them, or not to tell them? To hold off until problems arise or speak with the teachers to potentially avoid future problems?

The challenges with Payten are especially difficult. The teachers want the parents to check over homework and have the children correct mistakes. This is a HUGE problem because homework is ALWAYS a battle. Homework often triggers temper tantrums, especially when she has to redo it. However, this is nothing compared to how it effects the tenuous bond we have with her, as a result of her RAD. 

To demonstrate how fragile our bond is, read my prior blog wherein there was a wonderful breakthrough… Except, unfortunately, it has not happened again.

This is the conflict:

  • How much do we tell the teachers?
  • Do we tell the teachers only if there are problems?
  • Or, do we tell the teachers at all?

As an adoptive parent, how do you/would you handle this situation?

*I think this linkup was supposed to be about how adoptive parents handle insensitivities at school. My rambling went in a different direction. 🙂

* We have an open adoption with the girls’ maternal biological grandmother.

3 thoughts on “To Tell or not to Tell – THAT is the Question

  1. I’m so glad you linked up, and the topics are intentionally open to interpretation 😉 this was perfect! You know this is one of those aspects I have taken for granted as a transracial adoptive family. People always just KNOW my kids are adopted (or they are dense and don’t notice, but usually they know 😉 ). I think if a teacher didn’t realize I would likely tell them in advance. Just a quick email letting them know and asking for a heads up of any possible triggers like family projects etc. I’m interested to hear how it plays out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My husband told Paige’s teacher about her anxiety and sensory issues. I don’t know if he mentioned that she was adopted; however, in this case, it’s irrelevant.

      I sat down and talked to Payten’s teacher a couple weeks into school because we were having problems with homework. She knows a lot about RAD and was very understanding and supportive. I told her Payten is adopted – is it bad that I always tell others she is adopted so people don’t think her having RAD is my fault?


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