Sunday, November 9, 2008
I can't even begin to describe to you how angry I am right now.
Perhaps using words like...beside myself, boiling, corybantic, crazed, desperate, enraged, fit to be tied, frantic, fuming, hacked, hopping mad, incensed, infuriated, livid, maddened, on the warpath, raging, smoking, steamed, up in arms, vehement...will give you an idea.
Yep. That pretty much covers it.
This afternoon we found the following note from Anya's teacher Mrs. B in Anya's backpack....
Dear 2nd grade parents/guardians,
This week we began a unit on families, which will continue through January. We began reading the book "Love is a Family" by Roma Downey and discussing how families come in all shapes and sizes.
The Family Cultures unit will focus on a variety of families found within our
second grade community. The goal of the Family Cultures unit is to get students to delve deeply into their own family cultures and family support is essential. This unit will consist of four main projects including a paper Family Culture quilt, birth story, name story and family memory presentation....
For those of you who aren't adoptive parents, and may not have caught what has me so riled up. Let me highlight it for you...
This unit will consist of four main projects including a paper Family Culture quilt, BIRTH STORY, name story and family memory presentation....WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD. ARE. THEY. THINKING?!!!!!
They want Anya to share her 'birth story'?
What birth story?!
We don't know her 'birth story'! She doesn't have a 'birth story'!
What do they want us to share?!! That she was left at the hospital...or maybe found at the orphanage gates? What about wrapped up in a curtain and left in a meat market during the middle of winter?
Do they want us to share how she lived in the hospital for the first month of her life or how the birth family let her starve for the first six months of her life until she was a skeleton. Or maybe how she was left to cry herself to sleep in a crib with lead paint to gnaw on!
How are those birth stories?!
None of these tales are specific to Anya, but every last one of them is true for internationally adopted children in general.
Take your pick.
My kids have never been ashamed of their adoption. They think its cool...and up until the last few years thought everyone went to Russia/Ukraine/China to adopt their children. They've never hesitated in telling people where they're from...they are proud of it. But we have always made sure they know the story is their story to share or not to share.
It's THEIR decision.
If we don't do something Anya would be forced to face some things she may or may not be ready to face or share with anyone.
Can you imagine?
And there's more...
If Anya were allowed to continue this assignment (as it is now written) we would be forced to share some information from her background we do not feel she is ready to handle yet. Things we shouldn't HAVE to share with her yet.
And the BEST part of all of this is...
THEY'VE ALREADY STARTED THE UNIT!
Without consulting anyone, they've dived head-long into this series that could totally shake Anya's world!
And I'm sure Anya isn't the only one.
What about kids in foster care?
What about children who's parent(s) have died?
What about Maddie who is an absolute blank slate?
I just sent the following email to Mrs. B...
'I would like to set up a time to sit down and talk with you about this family culture unit, before the unit begins. Shad and I have some serious concerns about how this unit will affect Anya and what her level of participation should be.'See? I was calm, cool, collected and civil. I didn't go postal on her.
But I wanted to. While I may be calm, cool, collected and civil on the outside, I am boiling on the inside.
She knows Anya's history. While she doesn't know everything, she certainly knows Anya was adopted from Russia at a young age. And she absolutely knows how weird kids are about anyone who is different. Why didn't she talk to us BEFORE starting this. Why didn't she say something to us just two weeks ago at parent/teacher conference?!
And why, in the 21st century, do we still have to deal with this stuff?
Better yet...why do we wait until Sunday afternoons to open their backpacks?! Now I have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to get this taken care of!
Edited to add: Alright, I was wrong. She doesn't have three heads and is not the devi! incarnate. Mrs. B. just called. Thankfully she was open and receptive to our concerns. She has another internationally adopted child in her classroom and says she feels horrible about not anticipating how this would affect the girls. She is willing to talk with us about changing the assignments (before they're given to the children) as not to single the girls out. Funny thing is, adoption is part of the curriculum for this unit.
So while she isn't entirely horrible - she should have known better. I certainly hope she's learned something through this. I know I have. From now on, I will quiz each teacher at the beginning of the year to see if assignments like this are planned - if so, we'll have a little talk.