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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Monday, October 27, 2014

School Daze

We put Buddy in school about a month after we got home. He was going stir-crazy and really wanted to be around other kids. I had to go back to work only three weeks after we got home. I had hoped to take more time off, but our time spent in-country was longer than we had anticipated. Since Hubby was on his own all day with a pent-up Buddy, we decided it would be best for all of us to let him go to school.

We had picked the school we wanted Buddy to attend even before travelling. This school had a bi-lingual program in what we assumed would be our adopted child(ren)'s native language (we were wrong about that one, BTW). How great, we thought, perfect match, no need to look into it further. Oh how naive we were.

To be fair, there was nothing wrong with the school, it just wasn't the right school for Buddy. It was at the very end of our catchment area and Hubby had to spend about 3 hours a day driving Buddy to and from school. Since Hubby had to go back to work eventually, we decided to sign Buddy up for the bus program so he could try it out. Well, it turned out that wasn't an option because there was no school bus that drove all the way to our house.

Besides the transportation issues, the classroom wasn't equipped for Buddy. It was a blend of 3 grades, none of which Buddy was capable of working at. He had 7 different teachers. It took over 2 months to get an academic assessment and IEP. When we voiced concerns, we felt we weren't being heard.

To top everything off, Hubby and I were emotionally raw and kept overreacting to each issue with school that we encountered. Looking back, although we were a bit (very) intense, our hearts were in the right place. We had a feeling something wasn't right, and I wish I had trusted my gut instead of waiting and hoping.

The straw that broke the camels back was the day Buddy came home and volunteered information about what he did that day. Getting him to talk about school was like pulling teeth, partly because that's most kids and partly because the language barrier meant that he had no idea what was going on half the time. But he definitely knew what was happening when his teacher asked everyone in his class to draw their family tree during social studies.

At this point Buddy had been with us for less than 6 months. He didn't want anyone to know he was adopted and he was trying desperately to fit it. He was not ready to share his family tree with his classmates.

I was furious, and I felt violated. I knew that this seemingly simple assignment had stirred up everything inside Buddy he wasn't yet ready to deal with. It was then that Hubby and I took action. We took much more care in selecting a school closer to our home that was a better fit for Buddy and transferred him there. The switch was traumatic, but well worth it in the end. Buddy is flourishing at his new school.

If I were to do it again, I would think more about what Buddy needed. I would stay close to home and interview any school before making a final decision. I would put more weight on the fact that a teachers experience and personality has a huge impact on how they interact with the kids in their class.

And I would trust my gut.

Thanks to Leah from The Kohler's Journey for inspiring this post, and for being shoulder to lean on. You rock, Leah!


  1. thanks you for this post and all the valuable info, Mama Bear! you are a blessing! :)

  2. SO glad you guys made the switch. How are things going this year at his new school?

  3. So far so good! I am looking forward to letting him settle in to this school for the next 2 years before he moves to high school!