should the school be able to require the adoption decree to register an adopted child

What would you do if you received a form from the school informing you that you will need to provide your child’s adoption decree in order to register her for school?

Here is the situation presented on the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group: Parents were going to register their child for kindergarten. She had been adopted at very young age from foster care, and the adoption was finalized 4 years ago. Parents receive a standard form ahead of time asking for a copy of the adoption decree in addition to her birth certificate in order to register her for school. Her adoptive parents, by the way, are listed on her birth certificate.

can school require copy of adoption decree to register an adopted child for school

What would you do?

Heck No! I Won’t Provide the Adoption Decree to the School

Here are some thoughts by a few of the folks in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group.

We will not be providing it and plan to only mention it to the teacher on an as needed basis. I have always told the teachers our family story because I’m proud of it, but I also don’t say something ahead of time because I don’t want a label before they meet my child.


Birth certificate lists us as parents– that should be more than enough.


Once it’s in the school records, it’s super-hard to later have it removed.


It’s not something I want as a precursor and a title to my child.


I do not even mark adoptive parents on any form. I am not secretive either, but I’m her mom. End of story.


If you are listed on the birth certificate they cannot require the adoption papers. Only necessary if adoption is not final or you don’t have an amended birth certificate.


I would imagine the “if applicable” is they key here. Since you have a birth certificate listing your names I would say it is not applicable to you. I would imagine it’s only needed in instances where the adopting family does not yet have a new birth certificate


I once helped with K registration at my school and we only needed the adoption paperwork if the birth certificate wasn’t available or your names weren’t on it. Parents just need to show proof they are legally responsible for that child. These safety measures were put in place to counteract kidnapping.


What’s the Big Deal About Providing the Adoption Decree to the School?

But then a few people questioned why it mattered one way or the other. They asked: “What is wrong with the school knowing the child is adopted? I guess I don’t get the mindset. If you’re not ashamed of the adoption, why not provide the decree?”

Here are some responses to those who asked “why not”?

I think it goes along with the last line you said. “It’s the child’s story” sometimes as parents we may over share about our kids. I know I do from time to time. In this case it doesn’t make a difference for a school whether the child is adopted or not, it’s a student regardless. The child should be able to share the story and not make a big deal about it if they don’t want to. Everyone knows or assumes my son is adopted because we are white and he is brown. We told his teacher and his school counselor only in case it came up with the kids, etc. He’s not ashamed of it but doesn’t talk about it often either.


I think another aspect is that schools/teachers will label children. There’s still a line of thinking that adopted kids are more likely to be troublemakers or traumatized. There is a stigma attached to being adopted, especially by people 40+.


Even for some “younger” people, it can be a thing, not sure if stigma is the right word. I was out with a newer friend with whom I had recently shared that we adopted. We ran into one of her friends (in her thirties) and were chatting. Suddenly out of the blue, my friend tells her friend that my son is adopted. Her friend goes into a whisper and says to me, “Oh really? Does he know?” I explain that he does and that we have an open adoption with his birthmom. From that point on, when she spoke to me about my son, she spoke in a near-falsetto, like some people do when they talk to senior citizens or those with disabilities. It caught me completely off guard. So, yeah, there’s that. The older my son gets, the more I want it to be his right to share his story, when and with whom he wants.


The stigma thing is so true. I often feel like my son is picked on by his teacher for behavioral issues that I feel are typical for boys his age.


For me it’s not that I don’t want the school knowing when my son is school age. I intend to let his teachers know, for projects like family trees and volunteering for story time, so I can read adoption based books. Plus I live in a small community, so the people that know us already know he’s adopted. But I also want to be treated “normally”. A birth certificate should be adequate to prove that they are the parents. That’s almost like saying “ok, everyone else, you only need this documentation, but you, you need extra paperwork” without good reasoning. I don’t mind being open about our adoption however I don’t want to have to get into detailed explanation with people I don’t know and may never speak to again. Know what I mean?


It’s not about being afraid to be judged, it’s about being judged at all. I’m trying to think of an apt comparison. Imagine submitting your utility bill as proof of residency, but then being asked for your Section 8 paperwork if you live in certain ZIP codes. There’s no good reason for the school to know whether or not you’re Section 8.


It’s kind of demoralizing to keep having to prove you’re a family.

What would you do?

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Image credit: Michael Bentley