There are backpacks lined up in my dining room today. When backpacks are hanging on chair backs with zippers bulging with supplies and tissue boxes, even they look excited about a new year.
Lydia doesn’t start kindergarten until next year. But, she’s joining me two mornings a week at a women’s Bible study. And, based on our experience last year, I’m wondering how proactive I should be this fall with the new set of ladies about to experience our daughter in a classroom setting.
With children who were adopted but are the same shade as you, you have the option of sharing nothing adoption related with teachers. Those of my friends who choose this option tell me it’s better that way—teachers can have stereotypes and let their knowledge of the child being adopted affect how they view and treat the child or there’s no need to stand out and it’s private and none of their business anyway.
When we walk in that classroom for the first time (putting aside the way Lydia bounces into a room), we do pretty much stand out. One look at her + one look at me = adoption and whatever preconceptions or feelings may come with that.
I’ve decided to take the route of what I call disclosure within reason. Lydia always will deal with questions regarding race and adoption and her story. A teacher who knows nothing except that Lydia doesn’t look like the lady she calls Mom (aka me) will be less prepared to handle those situations the way I’d want him or her to handle them.
Disclosure within reason means sharing:
- that Lydia was born in China,
- that she was adopted as a toddler, and
- that we do not know or have a relationship with her birth family.
Disclosure within reason does not mean sharing:
- what we know about her finding,
- what her life may or may not have been before we brought her home, or
- how she or we feel about the information we have or don’t have about her history and/or birth family.
Disclosure within reason may include a few words about adoption in general or China in general. But, that’s it. As tempting as it may be to share more about how God built our family, I’m going to guard my words and in so doing guard her heart. After all, her story is not mine to tell. And, I’m going to teach her to guard it well. There’s plenty of time to talk more about the practicals, patterns of behavior and responses and strategies and all the whys behind them. And, based on all we’ve been seeing around here lately [insert sigh here], we may have to have that conversation sooner rather than later. But, for now, disclosure within reason, that’s it, shared casually and comfortably along with all the other important information that needs to be shared (e.g., said daughter loves goldfish and jumping from high places).