This section contains research and resources for teachers and school administrators who want to make schools more inclusive of adopted students and adoptive families.
Download a 30-page summary of findings and recommendations from the 2021 “Teachers and Adoption Survey,” which Drs. Abbie Goldberg and Harold Grotevant conducted with 200 teachers from across the U.S. about their experiences with adopted students and adoptive families.
The following download is a 2-page list of possible modifications to language, assignments, curriculum, classroom materials, and disciplinary practices that can be made to be more inclusive of adoptive families, based on research findings from this survey.
Below is a list of trainings, videos, and resource documents aimed at helping teachers and school professionals develop adoption competency.
C.A.S.E. Educational Trainings for Parent Groups and Professionals
- Teacher relevant training: Adopted or in Foster Care: Educators and Adoption Professionals in Partnership
Adoptions from the Heart (AFTH)
- Adoption agency that offers trainings for teachers re: adoption
- Teacher relevant training: Adoption and Family Diversity in the Classroom:
Teacher’s Guide to Adoption (2005)
• Resource document prepared by Robin Hilborn, editor of Family Helper, to promote the teaching of adoption in schools.
• For elementary and secondary school teachers; aimed to help them teach children about adoption and understand their adopted peers.
• Includes information on adoption for teachers teaching elementary through secondary students within ten modules. Within some of these focused modules, there are additional resources for teachers to use in learning and teaching about adoption, such as books, articles, and diagrams.
• Note: Much of the material is outdated, but the general gist of the problems with, and how to modify, basic and traditional assignments (draw your family tree, write your life story) are still very relevant and may be helpful for teachers.
What Teachers Should Know About Adoption (QIC-AG)
• For teachers and other school personnel.
• This 4-page informational/resource document addresses what teachers should know about adoption in order to best serve the adopted children they teach. It offers includes additional resources for both the teacher and their students re: adoption, such as journal articles, books, and television shows.
• It provides brief, digestible suggestions re: creating inclusive assignments, classroom, etc.
• Note:The organization that created the resource sheet is QIC-AG:
The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation: https://www.qic-ag.org/
Suggestions for Teachers Working with Adopted Children (PACT)
• For teachers/educators working with adopted children
• Much of the material seems to be catered toward younger ages, but can apply to adopted
children of a wide range of ages
• Addresses issues such as language and assignments.
• Highlights different adoption-related issues for children according to their developmental stage
Adoption Basics for Educators (Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association: IFAPA)
• For teachers/educators working with adopted children
• Addresses children’s understanding of adoption at various ages
• Contains a list of books about adoption for children of various ages
• Provides suggestions for alternatives to assignments that raise issues for/are often problematic for adopted children
• Contains a glossary of terms related to adoption
Adoption Awareness in School Assignments
• This 12 page self-described “pamphlet” prepared by Christine Mitchell (2007) in collaboration with Tapestry Books is aimed at parents and teachers of adopted children (seems to be catered toward younger ages, but can be applied more broadly).
• It provides suggestions for alternate family tree assignments (rooted family tree, family wheel) and other common assignments, addresses adoption positive language, and also outlines some typical experiences of adopted children in school. It provides visuals (e.g., that can be used as templates for assignments) for teachers and educators.
3 Ways Teachers Can Support Adoptive Families
• Online American Adoptions article for teachers/educators of adopted children that suggests that teachers address adoption as early as possible, adapt assignments, and be sensitive and don’t make assumptions.
A Teacher’s Guide to Introducing Adoption into the Classroom in 4 Easy Steps!
• This web based article by Adoptions from the Heart provides guidance to teachers on how to have discussions on adoption in their classroom. It provides suggestions such as using appropriate language, reading books about adoption to the class, educating parents, and initiating a community service project (e.g., involving a local adoption agency).
A Guide for Teachers: Helping Classmates Understand Adoption
• Web-based article by AdoptiveFamilies.com aimed at teachers from preschool through high school, and resources for adults.
• Unique in that it provides somewhat detailed guidance for teachers of students in upper grades, including high school.
• Preschool: Mention the word adoption/adopted occasionally as you tell stories about babies or families; initiate role plays related to adoption, such as going to the airport to meet a new child or going to court to have an adoption finalized; reading stories that mention adoption; ensuring that books in the classroom represent diverse families.
• Early elementary: Read stories about adoption; discuss different types of families; consider National Adoption Awareness month events, including having an adoptive parent visit; be aware of potential confusion when the word adoption is used in relationship to animals or fundraisers and suggest different language (e.g., finding an owner vs adopting an animal at a shelter).
• Later elementary: Be sensitive that children in this age group generally don’t want to be singled out because they are adopted; they want to blend in (as most children do); present alternatives to family tree exercises and give examples of how adopted children have chosen to make their trees in the past; mention that many famous people are adoptees (e.g., President Gerald Ford, Steve Jobs, John Lennon).
• Middle and high school: Suggest adoption as a theme for essay/journal writing; introduce family history assignments sensitively, mentioning alternatives for everyone and noting that some students may not have access to their birth relatives, due to divorce, death, adoption, etc; mention adoption in science class in connection with genetic studies, noting those traits, skills, and characteristics which are inherited and those which are acquired; in sexuality education and family related classes, discuss families formed by adoption. Explain adoption as a choice for people who face an unplanned pregnancy. Use positive adoption language.
Cultivating Connections with Diverse Families
• This web-based article is aimed at teachers/educators and addresses ways to foster connection to families from diverse backgrounds. It highlights the importance of home-school ties, especially for students from culturally diverse backgrounds. It provides ideas for developing connections, including via questionnaires and community-building activities.
10 Ways Teachers Can Help Students From Foster Care
• Online article, for educators of children in the foster care system (applicable to all ages)
• Outlines typical issues and ways to manage them (e.g., flexibility regarding difficult circumstances).
How Teachers Can Support the Foster Child
• 2019 Pathways Family Services online article for teachers/educators of children in the foster care system that addresses how to approach children in foster care and how to support both students and parents.
Everybody’s a Teacher
• Contains a compilation of (outdated) resources for people working with children in foster care, such as teachers. Each section of this document focuses on a specific topic such as Early Learning and Education Advocacy. Some resources are Florida-specific.
The Roles of School in Supporting Children in Foster Care
• This 10-page brief was prepared by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion & Youth Violence Prevention
• The brief summarizes research on school stability and achievement among youth in foster care and outlines issues related to disruptions in caregiving, school environment, etc.
• It provides suggestions for enhancing collaboration between schools and other agencies in promoting academic stability and success for children in foster care.
When a Foster Child Enters Your Care: Suggestions From a Foster Parent
• This brief web article by Christa Murray (2018) outlines issues related to transitioning into day care/early childhood education for children in the foster care system or educators of children at any age in the foster care system.
• Murray writes from the perspective of a foster parent and educator, offering practical suggestions to educators such as learning more about the foster care system in your area, talking with the foster family about known issues, recognizing the potential role of the child’s adverse childhood experiences in their difficulties, and maintaining open communication with other adults in the child’s life.
What Teachers and Educators Can Do to Help Youth In Foster Care http://fosteringsuccessmichigan.com/uploads/misc/EducatorsFC.pdf
• Foster Care Month.org created this 3-page guide for educators. It outlines strategies for teachers such as being mindful of each child’s individual circumstance, contacting prior teachers/schools for information about academic status, strengths, challenges, and history, respecting children’s privacy in the classroom, and being sensitive and inclusive in assignments.
Ready to Succeed in the Classroom
• 2010 report on “Findings from Teacher Discussion Groups on their Experiences and Aspirations Teaching Students in the Foster Care System.” This document is one aspect of The Ready to Succeed Initiative, which is an effort on behalf of the Stuart Foundation, with a mission to improve the educational outcomes for foster care youth. They aim to do so by assisting public education systems and child welfare systems.
• The document at hand is a compilation of findings, resources, strategies, and how to support students in the foster care system.
• Aimed at educators but also schools and community resource centers more generally.
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Adoption and School
• Contains links to various resources for parents and educators regarding adopted children and schools, such as:
- C.A.S.E. fact sheet (2016) about adoption and schools: https://adoptionsupport.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/09-Adoption-at-School.pdf
- C.A.S.E. fact sheet (2018) about supporting adopted children with special needs in schools: https://adoptionsupport.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Supporting-Adopted-Children-with-Special-Needs-in-the-School-Setting.pdf
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2021) guidance for early childhood educators and teachers regarding how trauma affects development and learning, common emotional, behavioral, health, and learning related issues in adopted children, and how to support children who are adopted/in foster care: https://downloads.aap.org/AAP/PDF/Teachers.pdf
Kids In The House (The Ultimate Parenting Resource) provides videos aimed at helping parents advocate for their adopted children in schools as well as for educators, such as:
Common Sense Media
• This resource is for K-12 teachers and is aimed to help them integrate diversity and inclusion lesson plans into their classroom.
• Includes links to and information about educational programs and training, anti-bias tools and strategies, lesson plans, bullying/cyberbullying resources, and more.
• Includes a variety of resources for K-12 educators to both use within their classroom in order to support diversity and inclusion in the classroom as well as strategies for teachers to best support a diverse classroom. Available resources include lesson plans, teaching strategies, and film kits.
Edutopia: Preparing for Cultural Diversity: Resources for Teachers: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/preparing-cultural-diversity-resources-teachers
• Includes resources on how create inclusive learning environments, as well as lesson plans, activities, and teaching strategies.