Lately I have been talking to frustrated foster parents and adoptive parents alike. Most of their frustration stems from a lack of knowledge about adoption and foster care at their schools. While there may be one or two key instructors or administrators who understand the issues adoptive and foster care kids face, overall there is a need to grow in greater understanding.

My suggestion? Become the advocate you wish you had. Here are five things you can do right now that will not only aid your child but also other adoptive and/or foster children at your school.

1. Talk to your child about safe/not-safe adoption talk and the high-value of their privacy. It is their right to share their story and they should not be coerced or pressured by students or staff into doing so. Educate your child; they are their own first line of defense.

2. If you have not introduced yourself and your family to your child’s teacher – do it now. I send this letter to my children’s teachers each year as a helpful way to begin to know our family and give them an opportunity to ask questions directly.

3. Make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher about positive adoption language in the classroom. The subject surprisingly comes up often and in various ways (baby photos, family trees, gene studies, inherited traits) – help your teacher by giving them the tools to create a positive environment for both adopted and non-adopted children.

4. Check out your school library to see if they have books about adoption and storybooks involving adopted kids – in a positive light. In this way adopted children can see their experience within the pages of a book.

5. Volunteer to lead a class discussion on adoption (age appropriate of course) in order to talk about all the ways a family can be formed.

These five simple things will begin to create a positive partnership with your child’s teacher and school. I promise.