The Family Tree Project
The family tree project is an age-old school lesson that teaches children about history in a fun and personal way. Unfortunately, the family tree can be confusing for those children who live in non-traditional families. Children who have been adopted may find the family tree to be complicated or even hurtful. There are several ways to approach this assignment. Providing options for your child to choose from can help alleviate some of the stress this project can cause and instead make it an interesting and informational lesson for your child. Let them know you support them no matter which of the following options they might choose.
The Birth Family Tree
A child in an open adoption may decide to put together a family tree showing his or her genealogy. With open adoption, this may be possible and have some unexpected positive results. A Family Tree is an excellent way for children to put together where their ancestors were from, who they were, and how they lived. Depending on your relationship, the birth mother may also enjoy working with the child on this project. This may even afford the child to spend time talking with biological grandparents or extended family.
An issue sometimes arises with the birth father. Because these men are not always a part of the birth mother’s life, it can be challenging to get information. All you can do is gather the information available and share that with your child. Knowing that you care and are willing to help with this will mean a lot.
The Adopted Family Tree
Some children will choose to use his or her adopted family to complete the family tree. This option can be very healthy and affirming. Your child is now and will forever be part of your family tree. This should be discussed, and your child should know what an important part of the family tree he is. The child knows that he or she is a permanent part of the adopted family.
Even if your child’s teacher is trying to educate students about different countries and cultures, the countries and culture your ancestors were from affect how you were raised and influenced and therefore, how your child is being raised and influenced.
Two Family Trees
The third option for adoptive families is to create two family trees. This allows your child to learn about all facets of his or her life and history. Children get a better sense of self the more they know about where they came from. There are some excellent family tree templates online that can be very helpful in navigating these waters.
These creative family trees can present an opportunity for open discussion in the classroom on adoption. Other children may also be adopted and can share a bond over the uniqueness of the situation. Others might not have heard of adoption and will want to learn more. Allowing a child to be open and honest with others regarding the family tree does more than simply help that child. There might be children who live with their grandparents, in foster care or who are raised by single parents. These children may not have access to a full family history. Seeing another child with a non-traditional setting may help another child to feel like less of an outsider.
Let the Child Decide
What is most important is to allow your child to decide which path to take. Your role is to help and guide your child while also offering advice along the way. You may even choose to attend a classroom discussion in order to answer any questions the other children may have. They might want to know more about adoption, how open adoption works, and much more. Being there in the classroom may turn a simple family tree project into an educational experience about adoption for everyone.