Being a high school teacher is very similar, I would imagine, to being an elementary school teacher.
"What did you do with the paper I just gave you three seconds ago?"
"No, you may not sit upside down in your desk."
"No, you probably shouldn't handcuff yourself to her."
"Stop playing with your sock."
"You just went to the bathroom five minutes ago and you need to go again?"
"Slow down when you speak because nobody can understand you."
"Please put the rubber chicken on my desk."
"What is in your mouth?"
"No, you may not make a paper airplane with your homework."
"Please tell me again how your knee injury doesn't allow you to use a pencil."
"Why is there a jar of pickles in your pocket?"
High school students (usually) are at a higher level of understanding intra- and interpersonal relationships, growth, and development. They want to know what made you, you. Every high school class I have ever had has wanted to know how I knew I loved Alex, what I did when my mom and I would argue, and what to do when I wasn't sure a friend was being a real friend.
I think it's super important to always be honest with my students because that's what I expect from them. However, just like they don't tell me everything in their life (thank goodness!), I do not share every detail from my life. Because I'm a new teacher in the district and building, students want to know things about Alex and I, specifically why we don't have kids. I get to tell them parts of our story and it is always cool when this happens. Never will a class be as silent as when you tell kids your personal journey through something difficult. Usually, our conversations happen like this:
Student: Mrs. Stacks (I'm always a plural, never a singular Stack), how come you and your husband don't have any kids?
Me: Sometimes things just don't work out, you know?
Student: Ok. (Thinking about it)... Ok. How come you didn't just take those shots so you could have a baby?
Me: Those shots are really expensive and there's still no guarantee that they'll work. Sometimes, those shots cost as much as an adoption, which is really super expensive!
Student: So.... Are ya'll just never gonna get kids?
Me: No, Mr. Stack and I would really love to have kids. We'd love to have our own kids, but sometimes God closes a door and says "That's not the direction you're going to walk." So then you really have to trust that God is going to do something even more amazing than what you originally thought would happen.
Student: So... Is that why you adopting?
Me: Yes, that's part of it. When you find the person who you are going to spend your life with, before you get married, it's super important that you talk about what you think your family should look like. Are you ok with adoption? Foster care? Having kids look and act differently than you? Those are super important conversations. So Mr. Stack and I knew that adoption was important to both of us and were ready to start that.
Student: OOooooooooh. So you never gonna have your own child? (This is usually said in the most incredulous voice. Most of the families here are LARGE, and it is inconceivable for them to imagine someone married and not having children.)
Me: Right now, God said no. But Mr. Stack and I agreed that we would much rather spend a lot of money on a child who is already born than create someone. If we have a lot of love and can meet someone's need, then we should!
It's around this time in the conversation that students end up asking those elementary type questions.
"What if the baby is ugly?"
"What if you get a black baby?"
"What if you get a baby with a disability?"
"Can you just adopt me?"
"What if it's triplets?"
"What if you get an Indian baby"
"What if ...."
The questions just erupt- giggles and shouts everywhere. The class divides into two- those asking serious questions and those who are asking questions because we all know that when we're talking about our personal lives, we're not doing school work. This is the part where I can tell them with utmost honesty:
It does not matter if the baby we adopt is black, white, brown, or purple. It does not matter if this baby is beautiful or ugly. It does not matter. What does matter is that we can help another child. Mr. Stack and I are very lucky that helping another child means that this child gets to join our small family. And we are really, really excited to welcome someone else into our family.
The class is silent as I let that sink in for a while before we move on. Most of these students haven't met someone in the position Alex and I are in. We have been very blessed and honored to share our story with not just all of you internet friends and family, but also the people who we never thought would be interested in our adoption journey and process.
Thank you for helping us be honest, open, and genuine in our process. We would not be in the place we are now if not for your prayers to continually have God soften and prepare our hearts, share our story with others, and help us with financial assistance. You have become a part of our adoption story. We are so thankful for you.