Sixth Grade History Fair: International Adoption

Well, here it is -- the culmination of a lot of work for the 6th Grade History Fair!  Zoe selected the topic herself:  International Adoption.  I'll walk you through the board a little, so you can get an idea of what all she learned and shared.  To the left is the historical timeline, showing the start of international adoption after World War II, proceeding through the Korean and Vietnam Wars (including Operation Babylift), the growth of international adoption after the fall of the Soviet Union, the increase as China came on line, the corruption scandals that closed Vietnam, Cambodia and Guatemala, the Hague Convention passage, etc.  To the right, is the part Zoe was most interested in, "Spotlight on China."  She talked about the one child policy, orphanages and foster care in China, and the adoption process.  In the center of the board, Zoe covered why children ended up available for international adoption, why parents adopted internationally, problems with international adoption, the passage of the Hague Convention, and the growth and then decline in international adoption.

It was a tough project for Zoe, for both academic and emotional reasons.  As an academic topic, international adoption is pretty challenging for 6th grade, especially since it's hard to find just a few sources that cover the breadth of the topic and are comprehensible to a 12-year-old (even a smart 12-year-old like mine!).  Synthesis of multiple sources was the hardest academic challenge for Zoe with this project.  If I knew at the beginning of the project what I know now, I probably would have tried to direct her to something more limited, like maybe focusing on the Vietnam Babylift or just on China adoption.  Oh well, in 8th grade, she has to do History Fair again -- so remind me in two years -- SMALLER, EASIER topic!

In terms of emotional content, there was a lot of hard stuff -- war, poverty, social upheaval -- in both the history and present time of international adoption.  Yes, many history topics are grounded in tragedy, and some 6th graders did handle these topics, but I think for Zoe it really hit closer to home because of her personal connection to international adoption. Even more difficult, this is the first time that Zoe has really confronted problems of trafficking and corruption in adoption. 

Still, I think it was overall a positive experience for her.  She was certainly pleased with herself, as you can tell  in the photo below (Maya had to be included in the picture because she also starred in the display board as we used some of our own pictures to illustrate topics on the board, and the red binder in front of the board included pages from each of their adoption-trip albums).