National Adoption Month: Adopting Teens

Posted November 22, 2016

National Adoption Month: Adopting Teens

Susan and Keith met in the late 1980s and lived in several states before they decided to make roots in central Texas. They were looking for the feel of a small town, with the amenities of a larger city. They always knew they wanted to adopt, and decided this was the place to raise their future child. Susan and Keith have a way of looking at life with a positive lens and their son fits right in with that perspective. Susan and Keith model similar behavior for their son. They are friendly and honest. When they talk about their son, you can see the pride in their eyes. They describe him as determined, thoughtful and optimistic, with the great ability to live in the moment. He is the least judgmental person Susan says she has ever met and accepts every person he meets just as they are, right where they’re at.
Susan and Keith are a neat couple, and recently shared their experience with the process of adopting for their family. They shared that every day is different and not every day is easy. They chalk many of the day-to-day challenges that have come up (like their teen not making his bed or pushing his limits on rules for school nights) to “typical teenager stuff.” That’s a good thing. It shows that they knew that adopting a teen wouldn’t be easy, but they’re glad that their son exhibits “typical teenage behavior,” because it means he has persevered, he has a safe, healthy life now, and is going to be wildly successful in the future.
They’ve been together as a family for two years and seem to have their rhythm. When they started the process of adoption, they thought they wanted to adopt a teenage girl. After licensing, tons of research and a few match parties, they met their son and it all clicked. He was the missing piece of their family.
They met Megan, our Foster & Adoption Program Director, at an event and decided to get licensed with The Settlement Home. Susan and Keith say that working with our staff made a huge difference in the process of finding and adopting their son. We don’t mean to brag, but we are incredibly proud of our program and the team that runs it. Here are some of the things that Susan and Keith say made them feel comfortable and confident as they went through the process:
  • Our staff was with the couple the entire step of the way;
  • Our team interfaced with CPS and were able to advocate on Susan and Keith’s behalf;
  • Our staff explained the steps and the procedures, allowing Susan and Keith to understand exactly what was going on and where they were in the process;
  • Our team personalized the experience and offered tips to help with the transition;
  • Our staff felt like family.

 

If this sounds like the kind of team (and family) you’d like to work with, click here to connect with us.

Last year, 42% of children in foster care were ages 10-21

 We often hear that people are fearful of adopting teenagers because they’ve heard that teenagers have too many challenges to adopt; they are afraid that after a kid turns 18, she or he will take off and never come back; or they want more time to spend with their kiddo than just the four years from 14-18 before they empty nest. These are not uncommon thoughts that occur to prospective families, but they are unwarranted. Let’s de-bunk these one by one:
  • Teen challenges- as with any topic, we often hear the extreme good and extreme negative stories. There are thousands of stories in between. It is the job of our team, the CPS caseworker, and your family to make sure that each kiddo is placed into the right home, both for them, and the family. Permanence is our goal- we  want to make a good match
  • 18 and run- When you sit back and think about it, isn’t our ultimate goal as parents that our kids WILL leave at 18? Whether they are biological children or adopted, when they leave, it means we have provided them with the support, encouragement and love that they need to feel confident venturing out and finding their way. And they’ll come back.
  • Wanting more time- Have you ever heard the old adage ‘age is a number and mine is unlisted’? That’s how we feel about the time kiddos from foster care spend with their adoptive families. It’s not the number of days or years that you had together, but the quality of the memories you made.

Susan and Keith had some of these thoughts before adopting a teen, too, and they now know that they were mostly unfounded. They can’t imagine their life before adopting their son. Their life before him seems incomplete when they look back. What we learned from talking to Susan and Keith is that the process of adopting is hard. It takes time, patience and perseverance. Here are a couple takeaways to remember from Susan and Keith:

  • Considering adoption? Go for it;
  •  Be open- you never know what’s going to happen, or who is going to come into your life;
  •  Go in with your whole heart- it will be tough, but you can get through the challenges as a family;
  •  Be introspective- Sometimes because of your teen’s history, the way you are approaching things could be a trigger. If something isn’t working, think about how you can do things different from your perspective and you might get a different result;
  • Teens grow fast (so prepare yourself for 2ndhelpings at dinner and outgrowing clothes quickly!)
  • Build a support system and allow them to help you through the process