Family Tree at School
The family tree project is a time honored tradition in public and parochial schools alike. This project teaches children to be interested in history and culture by placing their own lives in the center of the tree. It can be difficult to manage, but a family tree at school can be a very positive project in the life of an adoptee.
Catholic parents may wish to discuss the family tree with the teacher before the child gets started with research. Approach the subject gently. Don’t make the teacher feel as though he or she is being rebuked in some manner for assigning the project. Parents should instead simply ask the teacher if there is a preference for either the adoptive family, birth family or if it would be acceptable for the child to complete two family trees.
The parent may also ask the teacher if it is acceptable to visit the classroom. Students may have questions about adoption that are difficult for the adoptee to answer. The parent can field those questions, ensuring all of the students that an adoptive family is just as valid as a biological one.
The parent always has final say at home, but in the teacher’s classroom it is best not to undermine their authority. Parents should follow the teacher’s lead, and then help their children in any way they can.
If the teacher has no preference, the decision about which family tree to trace falls to the child. Some children may wish to trace their biological lineage. Children should not be made to feel guilty about wanting to know more about their biological history. Instead, parents and children alike should look at it as a voyage. It can be exciting to learn new things. Nothing is more important than learning about one’s own history. This might involve calls to the birth mom or even a visit with biological grandparents. Parents can supplement any gaps in the child’s family tree by studying the culture of the known places where the child’s ancestry originated. Checking out recipe books from the library and watching documentaries may be fun and interesting to all.
Are there multiple adopted children in the family? This might be a good time to study the history of each one. Let all of the siblings get involved in the fun of learning about their own heritage.
Some children may prefer to create a family tree that displays their adoptive family. Children who decide to follow this path should be assured that their adoptive family is their true family and that tree is very much acceptable. This can be a fun time to gather stories from older generations, look through old photographs and explore the world of yesteryear.