“Mom, Mrs. Craftson wants to talk to you.” As my child announced this upon dismissal from school, I was a little nervous. Mrs. Craftson NEVER wants to talk to me. Turns out, I need not have worried.
“We're going to be discussing immigration and having Immigration Day next week. How do you want me to handle it?”
She asked me that because my daughter is adopted and the teacher was showing sensitivity to Diva's background. Still, it caught me off guard.
Since my daughter is Chinese and the rest of the family is not, it is readily apparent that she is adopted. She and I have given school presentations on it over the years, enlightening students as to what adoption is and answering any questions the children might have. Diva is proud of her Chinese heritage and readily talks about her background. After thinking for a moment, here was my response to Mrs. Craftson's question:
“When you're discussing immigration and family trees, please mention that families come together in many ways, so immigration is about your family's background, no matter how your family was formed.”
Diva came home a few days later and asked what her heritage is, besides being Chinese. That started a wonderful conversation about my background and that of my husband. When she needed to dress like an immigrant, she chose to be someone from Italy because, she said, “That's where our family's ancestors came from.”
It wasn't that she'd forgotten her background; rather, she was embracing our entire family's origins.
Blood may determine genetics, but I don't believe it determines who is in your family. So many of my friends are FAMILY to me. Diva belongs to me, no matter how she came to be mine.
Every once in a while I, as the parent of an adopted child, get thrown a curve ball, something that parents of biological parents to not experience (I know because I also have a biological child). I've found that tackling the question head on, and emphasizing that families DO come together in many ways is the best way to handle heritage questions. Adoption is an amazing way to grow a family and I'm delighted that the educators I've met thus far are sensitive to the feelings of adopted children.
So, do you think I handled this correctly? If not, what would you have done?