TODAY   |  February 24, 2011

Noah learns to embrace his difference

As a part of TODAY’s Class of 2020 series, we take a look at Noah Shields, a very special boy who is learning to accept his difference as an adopted son to two fathers.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we've been following a group of stuns from their first day of kindergarten to their high school graduation. we've watched this group of kids grow up before our very eyes. this morning we're focusing on a very special 8-year-old boy.

>> reporter: the theme from the golden girls is the opening number of the friendship assembly. the culmination of a two-month course on friendship. friendship is more than just a new word they're learning. it's a concept teachers hope they'll embrace in and out of the classroom. what are you learning about? in the four years we've spent with the class of 2020 , noah has always been friendly, but also very quiet and shy. this year he is starting to express himself in his writing.

>> i was really sad. i was crying.

>> reporter: oh. you write really well. in one of his essays, noah talked about how he befriended a boy that needed help in math. the essay was so good, noah was asked to read it at the friendship assembly.

>> we are great friends.

>> noah is a very special kid. in terms of, you know, he doesn't judge, you know? he doesn't say, well, i'm only going to be friends with a certain type of person.

>> reporter: noah knows all about being judged. as the adopted child of not one but two dads. noah 's no stranger to bias.

>> okay. our kids have already got three crosses to bear. they're black, we're white, they're adopted and we're two dads.

>> he sees people look at the -- we get the first look, oh, look at the little kids. oh, there's little kids -- oh, they're a family.

>> reporter: they also adopted noah 's biological brother, joshua.

>> i'm poppy.

>> i'm daddy.

>> reporter: i love that. that's great. their family is just like anybody else's, but even at 8 years old, noah knows other people might not see it that way.

>> and he sees it. one time he goes, that's my papi. i'm with him. he's been very aware that we're a different type of family. and he's asked very intuitive questions about it, about his skin color and our skin color . while it was hard to deal with these issues, he's so honest about what he's feeling that it does help us to guide him.

>> reporter: noah has never had a problem expressing himself in public, but that hasn't always translated into confidence in the classroom until this year.

>> what do you think has been sort of -- what brought him out more?

>> skateboarding.

>> reporter: really?

>> yeah. he's found a real confidence in himself.

>> reporter: noah is taking up the challenge of skateboarding like every other obstacle he faces.

>> good try. great.

>> reporter: with determination and grace.

>> yes!

>> i have a citizenship award going here to mr. noah shields. he's a thoughtful and generous student who truly knows how to support his classmates. good job, noah .

>> reporter: what does that tell you, what you read in his essay and what he was able to do about the kind of kid that noah is?

>> he's very open. he's open in the way he relates to everybody. that's what makes so many kids connect to him.

>> such a great kid. such a great family. you can follow noah and our class of 2020 kids by going to our website, and clicking on "parenting."