baby pics and family trees (adoption/foster)

Cute baby pictures and family trees: two conundrums out of many that can arise in school. What to do… A fellow adoptive parent received the request to submit a photo of her child for the eighth grade yearbook, and here’s her response, which she shared on the Forever-Families Facebook page:

Dear Mr. Principal,

Ah yes, the dreaded baby photo assignment. This is the earliest picture I have of DD (adopted daughter).

<weblink to picture of daughter in children’s home>

Most of her baby teeth were rotten. Her hair was wispy like a person who is undergoing cancer treatment. She is dressed in multiple layers of clothing because she had no body fat to keep her warm. She was Negative 15 percent for weight and Negative 5 percent for height. Somehow, I don’t think she would want to share this picture with peers despite that beautiful sparkle in her eyes. She is 5 years old.

We parents of children adopted older are all to aware of this assignment and related ones (family tree). We call it the “dreaded assignment”.

I’ve included some information below about the subject and highlighted a passage that applies  

“The problem with all of these types of assignments is that there are many children who simply cannot complete them, for any number of reasons, not just adopted kids without baby pictures, as is our situation. Kids in foster care, kids with parents in crisis, kids whose families can’t afford to take pictures, etc. all may be unable to provide pictures… “ 

In these links above there are suggestions to use instead of “baby pictures”.

But there will be no picture from DD for this 8th grade yearbook nor for younger brother’s next year.

Best Regards,


She received a kind response from the principal:

Thank you Elaine,

I will share this information with the folks who handle the yearbook. I believe that this is the first year they have done this in a long time. Perhaps we now know why.


I don’t believe we should blame teachers or schools for doing these projects, after all the majority of society isn’t adopted. However, I do believe teachers need to be aware of the students in their classrooms and make alternatives for these assignments so all children can participate without being reminded that they have a different beginning. Having open communication with teachers is essential in helping them understand your perspective, and remember they may not be familiar with adoption and this is why these assignments and projects don’t take adoption or foster care into consideration.

In the case of a family tree, parents have chosen to include both the adoptive family and the birth family. You can see examples of this in the links below. I have considered what I will do if my children are asked to create a family tree. (Please note, this is only my opinion for my family and our experience.) My children will create a family tree with our family being their “tree.” We come to this with a different perspective, we adopted from foster care, we haven’t been in close contact with our children’s biological family, so this works for us. We aren’t lying to our children, but we are their tree. It’s not a “blood related” tree, but it’s their tree.

Here are some other ideas to replace the traditional Family Tree:

Have you experienced these assignments with your foster or adopted children? How did you handle it? I’m sure others would love to get ideas, so please share.

If you have a friend or family member who is fostering or has adopted, please feel free to share. You can receive updates by subscribing in the upper right side of this website. Also, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get more links to helpful information.