“Our foster son came home with ‘Family Tree’ homework. Here’s how we chose to handle it:
Tonight we got the dreaded homework assignment… the one that seems innocent enough—until you have a kid whose tree has gone through a hurricane of sorts, with leaves and branches strewn and mixed about into a jumbled mess. I lamented through dinner; when we finally sat down, I asked him who he thought his family was. He was confused and embarrassed. He looked up at me as if he was begging for the right answer.
‘Who are we?’
‘Are we family?’
‘Quinn and Riley are not my sisters… or are they?’
‘Do I have sisters? I know my Mom and Dad… do I have a Grandpa?’
‘Is your kids’ Papa, mine too?’
Because calling us family seems disloyal to his mom, and not calling us family seems disloyal to us—that’s not fair to a five year-old, traumatized boy. So, we decided to scratch the whole family tree; and instead, we made a ‘People I Love’ tree. His face lit up and he rattled off names to fill the tree. There was a place for us all—for Shane fand me, his momma and daddy; and frankly, anyone he loved. We talked at the end, about how God made us all, God is love, love makes a family—and that makes us all one big family. We drew hearts around mommy, and drew pictures of G playing with me and my husband; and the tension was gone.
For my teachers, educators, and administrators: I know this is just an oversight and not intentionally insensitive. I love my kids’ teachers so much. If you have a foster child or a child with an atypical family, would you consider sending them home with a ‘People I Love’ tree? Or, even better—what are YOUR suggestions?”