National Adoption Day #inclusionnottolerance

Yup, those are my kids and I am talking about them again, and spreading my personal agenda. This time it’s adoption. Yesterday was National Adoption Day ,admittedly we have too many ‘days’ and soon if it has not happened already there will be a national day for cupcakes, or Tupperware or even better we will not need them. That is my goal and my personal agenda, the calendar will be free of dedicated days, weeks, months because everyone will be included and celebrated during the year, automatically without the President of the USA or the UN having to declare it so. As for adoption, the understanding and inclusion for adoptees is still far from a daily event in our schools, places of worship, businesses, homes, federal government or national policies. How do I know? Because people say  insensitive stuff all the time, to my kids, to my family to me. They have been at least once a year (and for most of second grade) asked to focus on their family tree, their DNA, genetics (yes long before 7th grade science.) We have had very awkward conversations with total strangers about my son’s red hair – and where he gets it from – I respond “my grandfather and sister have red hair”( which is true). They have been asked what happened to their ‘real’ Mum and Dad and more than once in our presence they have been told, as have we, how ‘lucky they are’. Let me be clear, there is nothing lucky about their lives – they saved us not vice versa. Recently, when applying for a new passport my son asked ‘ when you are adopted do your eyes change color’? At first I thought this was a silly question, of course not. Then I talked to friends and realized the depth of his question, because, in our family we all have blue eyes and people comment on it, a lot, he assumes that they were changed when the Judge signed the adoption papers. Poor kid, life must be so confusing at times.

I appreciate all the love and support we have had over the ten years they have been part of our lives, I really do – but it has also been eye opening. Adoption is rarely discussed in schools, cannot be found in curriculum scientific or historic. So, much like Black History, Women’s History, Native American History, LGBTQ history , Asian history , Latino History – the history of  adoption and non biological families needs a day to celebrate and recognize the important place adoption plays in our society.

SO why this photo? I have used it in my classes and workshops when reflecting on assumptions, stereotypes – I ask people to look at this picture and tell me what they say, often come the answers like ‘ kids of privilege, rich, family, and siblings, pretty, beautiful, cute, vacation. They are cute but my work will be done when someone says, ‘they could be adopted.’

Published by Jane Bleasdale PhD

Jane.Bleasdale, PhD is Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Leadership Studies in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco (USF). Dr.Bleasdale has lived and taught in the United Kingdom, The Bahamas and the United States, Her career as an educator now spans three decades. Dr. Bleasdale previously served as a high school administrator focusing on equity and inclusion through personnel and student development Her doctoral research focused on equity and inclusion in high schools and specifically the experience of Black, Latino and LGBTQ students. She has recently conducted research on social and emotional wellness of students, the impact of school leaders on creating inclusive communities and critical feminist perspectives on leadership.Current research focuses on the experience and impact of women leaders with intersectional identities. Dr.Bleasdale is the principal investigator on a participatory action research project at USF collaborating with 10 doctoral students on a new paradigm for equitable leadership focused on critical feminst perspectives.

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