Press Release




NEW YORK, Oct. 1, 2006 – In order to give all students the best prospects for success, educators need to increase their knowledge about adoption (including aspects of foster care) and should implement changes in their schools to make them more responsive to the needs of adopted children, according to a new report released today by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the Center for Adoption Support and Education.

The report, “Adoption in the Schools: A Lot to Learn,” for the first time brings together research and years of broad experience on a range of issues that affect millions of boys and girls nationwide. It points out that, as adoption becomes increasingly normalized in the United States, more and more adoptive families are confronting challenges when their children attend school – and it offers recommendations for how educators can better meet those challenges.

“Few professionals in our country care more for children every day than teachers, but they have not received much training about issues that affect a significant number of their students,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “As the new school year gets going, that’s a gap we hope this important report will help to fill.”

Debbie Riley, Executive Director of C.A.S.E. added: “Building partnerships and collaborations with educators is key to adoption success and to building children’s self-esteem.”

Among the findings and recommendations in “Adoption in the Schools” are:

    • Education about adoption and foster care should be included in diversity courses and development trainings for teachers and other school personnel.
    • Some school assignments (such as the family tree) can be problematic or inappropriate for adopted and foster children, and should be modified.
    • A lack of accurate information can prevent educators from identifying children’s needs correctly and, therefore, from providing effective interventions.
    • School policies should prohibit harassment and negative comments about adoption and foster care, just as they already apply to gender and race.

“Educating educators about the realities of adoption is a diversity issue, because children should not be less understood or more stigmatized simply because of the type of family they happen to be in. It is also a fairness issue, because adopted and foster children are sometimes derided in ways we would never accept if the taunting or stereotyping referred to other aspects of their being – such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability,” says the report.

“And it is an inclusion issue, because the knowledge gained in learning about adoptive and foster families also applies to families headed by single parents, divorced parents, step parents, gay or lesbian parents, parents of different races, and on and on. In other words, doing the right thing for one group of children means doing the right thing for a majority of children.”

Some adoptive families are confronting a range of challenges when their children attend school, including the language used by both the children and adults; when and what to tell school personnel about the children and their pasts; and how to deal with questions related to ethnicity, birthparents, nationality, genealogical background, and some traditional lesson plans.

Most adopted and foster children confront situations at school that highlight their perceived “different” status from classmates who are being raised by their biological parents. “Adopted children’s interactions at school with both teachers and their classmates,” the report asserts, “provide messages regarding adoption that help to shape their identity as adopted persons.”

This unprecedented report was researched and written by two nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations: the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which is based in New York and is the pre-eminent national research, policy and education organization in its field; and the Center for Adoption Support and Education, which is based in Maryland and is dedicated to providing support and education to adoptees and their families.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Adoption Institute Chief Executive April Dinwoodie at 212-925-4089 or or C.A.S.E. Executive Director Debbie Riley, M.S., at 301-476-8525 or

To read the full report, go to: