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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

problems with/at schools?!

(15 Posts)
nanny1 Tue 27-Oct-09 15:33:41

Hello!

A little obscure perhaps, but I thought worth a shot! (and a bit long winded, but please bear with me!)

I'm in my final year of a Child Psychology degree. Having worked closely with fostered and adopted children in the past, when it came to dissertation time, I knew mine would focus around adopted children.

I've narrowed it down to looking at the adopted child within the school context. So any issues they might have in class, how these are dealt with, any other problems you've encountered, what allowances the school may have made to help the child (For example I worked with one family, who's adopted daughter was refused a school place having attended the attached nursery for a year. The decision was reversed at appeal on the grounds that she needed the stability due to her adoption)...etc!

So, it would be great for me to get a few case studies going, and I was really hoping that there are some parents out there who would be happy to talk to me about your experiences! Really just a chat to find out anything notable you've encountered. Also, I was really interested to discover that it's the parent's discretion whether to inform the school if a child is adopted, so would love to find out your reasons for those type of decisions...

Obviously should you be able to help, I can sort out all the necessary confidentiality agreements etc. Just thought I could at least start here!

It would be very much appreciated if anyone would be willing to help!

jeffily Wed 28-Oct-09 09:34:59

Hi Nanny.
Might not be quite what you are looking for, but I am a primary teacher and I had an adopted child in my class for a year (year 2 going and one term of year 3). I'd be happy to help, if any use...smile

Kewcumber Wed 28-Oct-09 09:57:23

My DS isn;t old enough for school yet but I have told nursery teacher that he was adopted. Mostyly for practical reasons - so that they can think twice if they ever talk about families, family trees, etc

nanny1 Wed 28-Oct-09 10:19:55

hi!

jeffily...thanks so much for replying...definitely what I'm looking for! Can I ask if the child displayed any noticable behavioural issues? Or if you picked up on him having problems within the class? Any specific events which come to mind?

Also, did you feel you ever needed to change your teaching approach to cater for the child? Maybe if he was sometimes aggressive, say, were his punishments ever different to the norm, because of his situation? Or maybe if he found participating hard, would you have pushed him to include himself, (asking him to put his hand up etc) or allowed him to be a quieter member of class so as to feel comfortable? Obviously he may not have displayed these traits, but really just if there was anything which you picked up on, which you felt the fact he was adopted may have caused, and how you as a teacher responded to him...?! (bet you regret offering now!)

If you would rather reply through email, feel free - im hannahfl@hotmail.co.uk

It would be fantastic if you could help...!

nanny1 Wed 28-Oct-09 10:27:18

Hi Kewcumber!

Thank you so much!

thats really helpful, thank you! I was just fascinated to find out that it wasn't a requirement of a parent to tell the school if a child was adopted, and that really got me thinking of the pros and cons!

Can I just ask..are the nursery sensitive to the fact that your DS may find some things difficult to cope with/have some behavioural struggles due to him being adopted? Have you had any issues as yet? or even has there been anything thats come up that the nursery may have been really good at handling?

Really hope you dont mind me asking....obviously you can reply to me by email if youd rather! im hannahfl@hotmail.co.uk.

Thank you so much for your help! It's just so useful to get some 'real' experiences and case studies. I'm getting more absorbed into this dissertation by the day!

Kewcumber Wed 28-Oct-09 12:13:50

DS doesn't really have any behavioural issues as a result of his adoption (or in fact for any other reason) his only issue was speech dealy when he started nursery at 3 which I discussed with the nursery. They just treated him the same as any other child with speech delays and now he is nearly four he has no remaining delays.

I think behavioural problmes are far more common in childrne who were adopted older (though not exclusively) whereas DS has been with me since he was 1.

KristinaM Wed 28-Oct-09 17:49:25

nanny1 - can i suggest that you contact Adoption Uk who will pass on your request to their members, if they feel it is appropriate.

Many adoptive parents may feel uncomfortable dicussing their children's confidential information on an open forum when they have no idea who you are

good luck with your dissertation

jeffily Wed 28-Oct-09 20:30:12

Hi nanny

I would say that James (not his real name, ob) did have some behavioural issues. He didn't have any understanding of other people's feelings, was v selfish and egotistical. For example, he would push and shove and hit at playtimes and when we talked about it afterwards he would say 'well he wouldn't play the game the way I wanted him to'. Not unusual for a 5 year old perhaps, but you would expect them to grow out of it by 7 or 8. He spoke his mind regardless of whose feelings might be hurt/whether it was appropriate. One incident that springs to mind was when the local vicar was taking assembly and it was very boring. James turned to me and said in a very loud voice "this is really boring, when will it be over?!' He was rather self-centred and found it hard to understand why he had to fit round other people rather than them fitting round him IYSWIM.

He was aggressive at times, but it is hard to say if I changed the way that I dealt with it because of his situation, as I would always deal with children in differing ways depending upon why they were behaving in that way. His status as an adopted child was part of my awareness at all times. I was always mindful of it when we were talking about families and family make up, brothers/sisters etc (he had siblings that he saw still).

From a teacher's point of view I would say that it seemed that the fact that he had been adopted meant that his parents really loved and really wanted him and they were always conscientious about reading with him/working with him at home/coming into school and helping out- being the best parents they possibly could be.

Hope that is helpful and sort of what you are looking for!

chegirlknowswhereyoulive Wed 28-Oct-09 20:52:50

I have found that my son's school do not see his adoption as an issue and have tended to ignore it.

The head of inclusion did not pass on the information I had given him to class teachers and they failed (on a number of occasions) to let me know about upcoming sensitive topics.

This caused distress to my son and me and made me v.cross.

His class teacher now has promised to tell me when they are doing anything regarding family, babies etc.

It has taken me quite a lot to convince them that DS finds seperation and change more difficult than most children his age.

I think, to a lot of schools, adoption is simply not an issue they take into account.

shockers Wed 28-Oct-09 20:57:58

I agree!

shockers Wed 28-Oct-09 21:00:29

But jeffily, you sound like one of the good ones smile

shockers Wed 28-Oct-09 21:06:09

Many headteachers are not aware of the effects of attachment disorder. For information about this, there is a course run by the After Adoption Charity. I personally think all heads and SENCOs should go on it.

nanny1 Wed 28-Oct-09 22:57:48

Hi all!

Jeffily, thats absolutely great, thank you. some really useful points you make. can't express how grateful I am for the help!

Kewcumber - a really good point you make. I too would anticipate greater problems the older the child, but after researching attachment disorders etc, i think there is potentially something there with some children even when adopted at a young age. But obviously all children are different! Useful for me, too, to make sure I address that point, and that such behavioural problems may never occur in some children!

chegirl...I cant believe that the information wasnt passed on! You clearly had decided to inform them, i assume because you felt it would be relevant, and for it to not be handed over just seems like the school were disrespectful of your concerns. So glad you're able to communicate directly with the teacher now. Yes, i expect it was distressing for both yourself and your son - especially when you had no for-warning of topics arising. Thank you so much for telling me about your situation!

shockers - thats brilliant, thank you! I'll get on to the AAC in the morning!

KristinaM - thank you for the pointer to adoption UK. And for raising your concerns. Obviously I am very aware that this could be a sensitive subject to many, and I totally respect that. No-one need feel obliged to tell me anything they are uncomfortable with! I just have been a member of mumsnet for a while now, and thought it might be a good way to get in touch with a few people and find out a bit more about their experiences.

Again, a massive thank you to you all! If any of you do think of anything else, it'd be great to hear it!

maryz Thu 29-Oct-09 22:50:29

I think the business about discussing it at school definitely gets more difficult as the child gets older. I informed my children's primary school, but not the post-primary, as the children don't like talking about it to strangers - but it comes up every time a medical issue arises - did your parents have asthma/heart problems/deafness/short-sightedness etc. The children have to learn to field questions and comments. Science is another situation - blood tests, eye colour, genetics of all sorts come up.

dd who is now 13 was very upset when a friend from primary school told all her new friends that she was adopted - she isn't ashamed or bothered by it and has no (apart from ordinary teenage angst) problems, but felt it was her own private information. The telling led to all sorts of personal questions - she was asked a lot of things which she felt she wouldn't have been asked if she wasn't adopted, all about her "real" family, where she was from, how she felt about us, whether her brothers were related to her, etc. It caused a big rift between her and her best friend for quite a while - to the confusion of her school house-parent who had no idea why they had fallen out.

My older son has huge problems, including anger about his adoption, resentment of us, and probably attachment disorder. I don't want to talk about specifics here, but I do feel that many of his problems were put down by the school as being "related to adoption" when they may not have been; conversely some anger issues and personal issues which I feel were adoption related were ignored and dismissed as unimportant. I realise the school probably couldn't win, whichever way they jumped, but he is an example of how adoption can be a much wider issue than is generally realised at school.

nanny1 Fri 06-Nov-09 16:31:19

hi maryz!

thanks so much for your post!

I sympathise utterly with your dd - it must be hard if you have to fend off questions that a peer may not. I suppose that could be an argument for not telling the school... I certainly know that the more ive researched, the more of a minefield it is! - as, i suspect, your son is testament to!

Having been on to the dfes, dcsf and all manner of support organisations and schools, i do think there is an absence of awareness amongst many schools about problems which adopted children may face. It seems that some teachers are very clued up on it, but only if they've done their own research. Looked After Children seem to be where the government focuses, but once that child enters a permanent home, all the support systems in place seem to fly out the window... (obviously i'm generalising, but this seems to be the majority thinking!).
and if your son's school are perhaps unaware of any specific problems which your son may face due to his adoption, that could be where they're misplacing the causes of different problems.

Thank you so much for your comments!

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