5 Things Adoptive Parents Want Teachers To Know About Trauma.

Along with providing content that enriches the lives of adoptive, foster and special needs parents, we want to be proactive about creating resources you can pass on to professionals, like a teacher or coach. So when our friend Michele asked us to make a video explaining trauma to teachers, we jumped at the chance!


We jumped because we’ve been there many times in the past- Sitting in IEP (Individual Education Plans) meetings that looked more like a sinking ship than a proactive plan. It wasn’t that the teacher was unprofessional, or rude (although we’ve experienced that), it was a lack of understanding. Most of the children in their classroom did not come from traumatic pasts. Most were not abused, or removed and placed in foster care. Most were not malnourished or left to fend for themselves before their adoption. Most had a forever home from birth.

To try and explain why my 10-year old son believes he’s starving because he lived in a homeless shelter as a newborn and did not receive proper nutrition, often fell on deaf ears. Many times, we walked out of those meetings defeated, frustrated, angry and wanting to yank our child out of school altogether.

However, we discovered a much better way. When we started talking, patiently and calmly, about the facts of trauma and how it manifests itself in our children, things changed quickly. In this special video, Kristin and our good friend Nicole, share 5 key truths that adoptive parents want their children’s teachers to understand about trauma.

Here’s a quick list and synopsis of the points that Kristin and Nicole shared in the video:

  1. Communication is key. Everything that is happening in your classroom could be a direct result of our child’s traumatic past. You must proactively communicate every day with us.
  2. We’re not being mean. We are working on helping our children understand logical consequences.
  3. We’re working on a bigger picture. Our children were traumatized at birth because of separation, but they’ve also experienced secondary trauma in entering our family. Therefore, we are actively working on establishing trust, a healthy bond, and attachment with our children.
  4. Trauma changes the brain. Our children suffered immediate trauma when they were separated from their birth mother at birth.
  5. Our children’s information is private. We often do not share the details of our children’s past openly out of protection for them.

Resources You Can Share.

We want you to be able to pass this on to teachers and school administrators so we’re providing the link to a special landing page with both the video and a sample letter we recommend sending along with the video link. Remember- the goal is not to drive home a point, or even prove a point with your child’s teacher. That was our approach in the early days and it didn’t work. If you go in guns blazing, belligerent or frustrated, your child’s teacher and/or principal will not capture the facts. They will not become educated on trauma. They will think you’re crazy.

The letter should include…

  • A cordial introduction.
  • A brief explanation of why they are receiving this letter.
  • A synopsis (not full explanation) of your child’s story.
  • An explanation of the YouTube link (or other resources)
  • An expression of wanting to work with the teacher

Then include the landing page link (below) and adapt our sample letter as needed.

Download the sample letter here

Click here to visit the Video + Letter page

As we often say in our posts, and emails- we hope that the content we share enriches, encourages and lifts you up on this sometimes difficult journey. We know what you’re going through on a daily basis. We know the battles you fight, with your children, but also for your children. We’ve been in that trench.

Remember…you are not alone!

Question: What are some other resources that you’ve found helpful in helping teachers and school administrators understand how trauma has affected your child? Share with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Pingback: 5 Things Adoptive Parents Want Teachers To Know About Trauma by Mike Berry | talkin'realhere()

  • Jacqueline

    As a teacher, I appreciate this video. I would like to adopt someday and consider myself relatively knowledgeable about fostered and adopted children, but I learned things from this video as well. I suspect that most teachers are quite willing to work with adoptive/foster parents, but many simply aren’t aware of what these children need. A video like this can be a valuable tool. Education is key!! (As in: education of teachers who simply aren’t aware of how an adopted child has been impacted by their particular situation.) Especially in a world where teachers sometimes grow wary, since you also sometimes have parents who for reasons of their own want attention and see special needs in their children that don’t quite exist.

    • Hey Jacqueline, so glad you liked the video. Please feel free to share it at will… 🙂

  • Allisonm

    Fostering a positive and helpful relationship with the school is so important. We are about to have our fifth IEP meeting this year for one of my sons. I say “we” because my son’s entire mental-health team attends every one. Our new school started out not understanding the severity of my son’s needs, but by proactively educating them, both about trauma and about how my son actually experiences the school environment (as threatening, etc.), we worked together to formulate a comprehensive plan. We are now on our fourth good plan, since sixth-grade boys can be a moving target and triggers both at school and out of school affect my son’s ability to tolerate school. I think this fourth plan is good, but needs a little tweaking. We schedule our next meeting at the end of every meeting, hoping that one of these days we will see it coming up on our calendars and just agree to cancel it as unnecessary. My son is pretty seriously disabled and is now bigger and taller than I am, but we see progress, even in the face of triggered regressions. He may revert to infancy for a few weeks, but when we have worked our way back up through the developmental stages, he is stronger than he was before he got triggered and functions at an ever-increasing level of maturity and stability. The people at my son’s school are a big part of his progress. They care about him and are a vital part of our total team.

    • Hey Allison, that is awesome that your son’s entire mental health team attends. We had that with our son several years ago and it made a huge difference!

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