Friday 1 April 2016

Home Education and Adoption

Yesterday, we were approved as potential adoptive parents! We underwent a fairly detailed, three-month long social work assessment and yesterday was 'panel'. It had been suggested that there may be concerns about our decision to home educate. Part of this is due to it not being as well known an option here in the country where we live, and were the usual chestnuts of 'socialisation' etc. As it so happened, God answered our prayers and the adoptive parent representative actually homeschooled her children and was familiar with the benefits, and even of the curriculum we use.

In preparing for panel, I decided to see what had been written about home education and adopted children. Most of what I found was anecdotal, but it makes perfect sense.

1) For me, the strongest argument is that there is no difference between an adopted and a biological child. At least, not in our home. If homeschooling is your first choice, then it is your first choice, whether your children are biological or adopted. Your motivations will be the same. Each child, biological or adopted has unique strengths and limitations, and by home educating them, there is the opportunity to spend the necessary time to explore strengths, to work on weaknesses, to speed up or slow down according to their level of interest and progress.

2) There does tend, in the UK and the USA, to be an assumption that an adopted child will have special educational needs. As indicated in the link above, I do not find that presumption necessarily helpful. However, there is some truth that these children may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero, may have had a poor early bonding experience, and if the child is older, may have been through various types of trauma. Several families have written blogs describing just how helpful home education has been in meeting the individual needs of their child (ie here and here). The UK provides some guidance on homeschooling adopted children here. There may be attachment issues or identity questions which arise later, and again, I would consider that the structure and stability of a home educating family might be the ideal place for a child to be supported through these.

3) Children may come from a different background than the parents. For us, all of our children have been born in different countries and we endeavour to maintain some of the links - celebrating national holidays, learning some recipes, songs, some of the history  - really seeking that the child knows their identity. We are open about adoption, talk about it often, and hope that the adopted children grow with a strong sense of who they are as part of a multicultural family. Some bloggers describe this nicely ie herehere and here)

4) Unless the child is adopted at birth, the family will have missed some of the early life and development of that child. By home educating, there is longer spent together to build that bond - not just between parent and child, but between siblings. This is described here and here.

For us, as we prepare to welcome a new arrival, we plan to continue our usual routine of learning through the richness of daily life, of involving all the children in a range of activities, and spending many many hours reading books together. We know there may be challenges ahead (as with any family!), and believe that our lifestyle provides the best resource to work together as a family and build each child's confidence. Most importantly, we seek to equip our children with a strong biblical worldview providing the foundation for whatever God calls them to in the future.

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