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February 2007Vol. 8, No. 1Teaching Educators About Adoption

A recent report from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute addresses the challenges that many adoptive children and families face within the school system, and it offers recommendations for how educators—teachers, counselors, and other school personnel—can best meet the needs of these children and families. In many cases, teachers and other educators have received no training in adoption and foster care, and they may inadvertently convey the message that some families are more "normal" than others. Teacher training in the issues surrounding adoption may help sensitize educators to the best way to help children in their classroom who are adopted or in foster care.

The report offers several recommendations, including:

  • Modify school assignments (such as the family tree) that are problematic or inappropriate for adopted and foster children.
  • Include education about adoption and foster care in diversity courses and development trainings for teachers and other school personnel.
  • Provide accurate information about children so that educators can identify children's needs correctly and provide effective interventions.
  • Develop school policies that prohibit harassment and negative comments about adoption and foster care.

Adoption in the Schools: A Lot to Learn: Promoting Equality and Fairness for All Children and Their Families, by Susan Livingston Smith and Debbie Riley, is available on the Adoption Institute website: