Joseph is now 11 years old. He was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In his first few years, he tragically lost his birth family and ended up in a refugee camp and then an orphanage. After a three-year search and a two-year adoption process, he came to Canada to join his new family in Coquitlam. It has been an incredible journey for this young boy.
Claire’s 10-year-old son, Adam, was adopted from a Russian orphanage when he was 19 months old. Her second son, Ethan, joined their family from foster care at age 7. In this 12-part series, Claire shares the “fast and furious learning” she and her family experienced when they adopted an older child. This series ran from 2013 to 2016.
When my older daughter, Jessica, was in kindergarten she love to attend birthday parties. However, one day she came home from a birthday celebration very sad and very quiet. She wanted to be left alone and didn't want to talk about the party.
In School District 59, a ground-breaking program works with Aboriginal students, coach/mentor teachers, families, and communities to improve outcomes for Aboriginal students.
According to District Vice Principle Caron Jones, a coach/mentor teacher in each school guides a collaborative process that places Aboriginal student achievement at the forefront. The result has been increased successes in many areas including reading scores, course completion, and graduation rates, which rose from 45% to 62% over five years.
Sticks and stones
Remember that rhyme you learned as a child? “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Obviously words can’t cause physical harm, but I’ve learned they definitely can cause emotional pain, the kind you hold in your heart and wear on your sleeve. The kind that leaves scars that never really go away.
Lose your expectations
When Ethan came into our family, he was very angry. My family and friends wondered what he had to be angry about. All they could see was that he was part of a loving family. They thought he should be grateful. It was interesting to me that these usually empathetic folks couldn’t immediately see the loss suffered by this child. Before I could understand what was going on, I had to abandon my expectations of them--and of Ethan.
Each year, around 550 children are adopted by BC families. There are probably children in your class who have joined their family through adoption. We have prepared this information to help you understand some of the issues that adoptees can face at school and how you can help them.
There are many good reasons to be sensitive to adoption in the classroom:
Allison Pooley is the Program Director at the Asante Centre. She assists individuals, family members, and service providers in understanding the diagnostic process as well as the implications for providing integrated post-assessment supports and services. Allison has been involved in FASD prevention and intervention efforts for numerous years both in northern B.C. and the Lower Mainland, including work in early childhood education, the public school system, the criminal justice system, and adult support settings.
Adoptive parent and therapist, Brenda McCreight, wrote this letter for parents to give to teachers. Download a longer version, which includes website recommendations for teachers, at www.adoptioncounselor.com.
Learning disabilities expert Dr Richard Lavoie knows the secrets of school. Here's a summary of some of his ideas.
Lavoie identifies four groups of kids at school: