University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Resource Documents, Adoption-Specific

Adoption / Foster Care Fact Sheet for K-12 Teachers

  • Made possible by the Rudd Family Visiting Professorship, awarded to Dr. Abbie Goldberg
  • Dr. Gwen Bass, adoption educator and consultant, played the lead role in compiling this resource
  • School engagement is one of the best predictors of lifelong wellbeing, so it is vital that our classrooms are environments where students thrive.


Teacher’s Guide to Adoption

  • 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  • Note: Much of the material is outdated, but the general gist of the problems with, and how to modify, basic and traditional assignments (draw your family tree, write your life story) are still very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:


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 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.
  • 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.