OART #50 – Adoption and School
Since I am not making the decisions about J’s schooling nor am I deciding who is told when about J’s story, this post is more about what I have heard from M&P about how they have handled disclosure and what’s it has meant for J.
J lives in a family where it is obvious that he was not born to his parents – being the child of two Dads, people automatically know there is at least one more person involved in J being brought into the world. When J attends school, the fact his family make-up is a little different is known from the beginning (I may write another post specifically about this, but I’m trying to stay on topic here).
But having his friends and teachers in school knowing that J is adopted from the beginning isn’t the same as their understanding his family make-up. Having his teachers understand he’s adopted doesn’t mean they will know and understand that he is part of an open adoption.
Although J is only 3 and not in school (although he has been in daycare for a long time which they all refer to as school), this issue of how to divulge and talk about his family make-up has already come up. When J’s (day care) class started making Mother’s Day gifts this past year, it overlapped with a lot of talk at home about me being his Mother. J’s teacher asked M&P how they wanted this gift making to be handled – who the present should be for. So M&P explained who I was, that I was in his life, and that J should be encouraged to talk about me if he wanted. This encouragement from his teachers opened up a can of worms – J suddenly had a need to talk to his friends and teachers about me, talking about how he was making a present for his Mommy, he was going to see his Mommy and spend Mother’s day with me, and on and on. I’m sure it was a little strange for his teachers, but they rolled with it and encouraged it.
The result is that J has never referred to me as his Mommy in front of me, and hasn’t to M&P (they talk about how I’m his Mom but he refers to me by my first name), but in school he has found a place where he feels comfortable to talk about it. I am not certain why, maybe because he is worried about his Dads reactions, maybe because in school he knows his story is his own and isn’t anyone else’s as well, or maybe it’s because the topic of Mommy’s are brought up there in a way he wants to participate so he brings up me. I don’t know, but I am glad M&P were open about our openness, that they talked about it and encouraged the teachers to talk about it.
J starts in a new class this year with new teachers and new kids. He will be in a place where he is the youngest (he is almost always the oldest in his past daycare classes) and the new kid. He will have to work to get to know these kids and have them get to know him. I hope that M&P disclose about our family again, I hope they do it prior to when it comes up and not wait until Mother’s Day because I think giving J the chance to define when and how he talks about his family with his classmates and not have teachers discourage him is really important. I just want J to have a place he can feel comfortable talking about his family, all of it.