Sunday, March 02, 2008

Reasons to Foster or Adopt Teens

So Jo also asked about the best part. In general the best part is the kids. Of course, that is not terribly specific, so I thought I would try to write about all the best things about taking kids who are teenagers.

1. That younger kid you're adopting? He or she is going to turn into a teen anyway.
Okay, I know. I understand that you are hoping that by the time your kid turns into a teenager you will be ready for it, and that the relationship with the kid will give you a foundation to navigate the teen years. Still, I did have to get this point out there. If you adopt you can decide to skip the baby years, but there is no way you can skip the teen years.

2. Contrary to what you may think adopting a 15-year-old doesn't mean that you will only be parenting for 3 more years.
Human beings need pretty intensive parenting well into their 20's. That can mean different things, but they do need it. Some may need or want to live at home longer. Others just need a lot of emotional support. All of them need parents.

3. You know what you are getting.
It is not unlike voting or hiring someone with experience and a track record. If you know what issues you are good at dealing with, then you can be MORE confident that you are matching with a kid whose needs fit your skills.

4. They can just be so cool.
Okay, I don't know how to say this in ways that don't sound particularly offensive, so here goes. The younger the child is, the more competition there is. By the time kids are 15 most people aren't even considering them. There are so many wonderful kids with no history of criminal behavior and relatively-minor psychological issues. I mean, there are really cool kids wanting families.

5. They may share actual interests you have.
It depends upon what you are interested in, of course. Let's be honest though. A lot of parents talk about the joy of watching cartoons with their kids, playing with their little plastic toys, and reading Goodnight Moon two dozen times every night. To some of us though there just isn't a whole lot of attraction in that. How about instead of watching Dora the Explorer with your kid you got to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Huh? How about that? What if they wanted to go to the art and craft fair with you? How about taking a jewelry-making class for adults? I am not saying they will or should be thought of as a substitute for a friend, socializing and entertaining you, but I am saying that your bonding parent/child interactions can be done in activities you actually enjoy.

6. They do their own self-care.
Really. They are usually even willing to do their own laundry. Okay, so instead of bugging them to take a shower you are worrying about how to pay for all the hot water since they don't come OUT of the shower, but still, the icky, gross part of parenting is over. When they are sick, they don't crawl into your lap and stick their running noses into your hair.

I may add to this list, and you are welcome to do so to. I am going to publish it, and I am going to try to write a post on some of the basic ways that parenting teens, especially kids who come to you as teens, is just different.

And I am still open to more questions!

***Hey! Spell check is working again!***


  1. Here's some I thought of:

    Most parents say they don't want to miss all the "firsts" in a child's life, hence wanting a younger child.

    Even if you're adopting a teen, you'll still get tons of the firsts-

    1. First period (if you get a girl) which is a huge bonding experience naturally

    2. First driving trip, first trip to get the permit, etc

    3. First college visit

    4. First shopping trip where THEY pick the clothes and you just pay for them (which honestly, was a stinking blast!!!!)

    5. First time to help them cook dinner for a friend or family

    6. You get to be there for graduation

    7. You get to be mother/father of the bride/groom

    8. Birth/adoption/foster of first child (your grandchild)

    9. FIrst crush/boyfriend/girlfriend

    10. Prom

    11. You get my point!

    You may miss the first word, but you may get to hear the first word in Spanish, learned in high school

    You may miss the first step, but you'll get to see the first step in high heels for the valentines banquet

    You may miss the first hair cut, but you'll be there for the first set of highlights (in our case, done by me on the deck of our house with an audience of teens!)

    And the best reason to adopt teens/preteens?

    They are NOT typically morning people. No 4 am feedings, no 6 am diaper changes, no 7 am wake up to watch Barney/Doodlebops.

    Teens almost always like the late hours, wanting to talk and eat cookie dough and doritos and "bond". They don't bug you first thing in the a.m. unless you forget to give them something they need for school.

    Knowing that surveys have shown that more than 65% of the population prefers evenings over mornings, this alone should be an incentive!

    Ultimately, though, you have to remember it isn't just about you. Ideally, yes, you'd have a child from birth/toddlerhood through adulthood, raised in your home with your values and your memories, who will grow up to automatically cherish you simply b/c you are mom & dad.

    But in reality,there are just tons of teens who are facing tomorrow knowing they are completely alone. Desperately latching onto anyone that will pause enough for them to know, or rejecting everyone thinking they can do it alone.

    Imagine going to college without someone to call home to on the weekend. Imagine falling in love without a mother's shoulder to cry on when it goes downhill. A trip down the aisle to the Wedding March without a dad to escort you.

    Children born without grandparents to send huge bears and balloons. First home purchased and decorated and no parents to have over to exclaim how lovely it is.

    First car purchased without a parent to glare down the dealer into a reasonable price.

    You get the picture. It isn't about us, its about making sure that every child has a family.

    I'm not perfect, how can I expect a perfect child?

  2. Wonderful. Really, Mrs. Butter B, I would love it if you started blogging regularly.

  3. I love Butter B's response. She covered all my thoughts. But I do have some other stuff to add. You still get to do a lot of the firsts. I did with my daughter. First time she ever went ice skating, first time fishing, first time camping, first time on a roller coaster, first time calling someone "mom" and "dad", first time she had her VERY OWN dog. We also got to teacher her how to do so many things that other people thougth had already been taught to her, how to properly brush her teeth, how to take a proper shower and keep herself clean (you still get to play with dolls this way :), how to cook, how to clean, how to share. We introduced her to new kinds of music, art, people, sports. We taught her that diversity is a good thing, not a scary thing. That the world would be boring if we were all the same color, or all liked boys, or all were the same religion. There is so much you can do with teens and preteens like my daughter. They are so much fun.

  4. amen torina!

    (and yondalla, I would love if I could blog regularly too, maybe soon!)

  5. I really love this list, Yondalla, as well as Mrs. Butter B's additions. I am considering fostering/adopting teens. I've always thought these things might be true, but it's nice to have them confirmed. I particularly love number 1--when I was in PRIDE class, people would look at me like I was crazy when I said I was interested in teens. The thing is, though, everyone is going to be a teenager someday. It also seems like maybe you might be able to accept their teenager-ness with more grace if you aren't expecting them to act like the charming and adorable child you've raised (I dont know, though, 'cause I'm not a mother of any kind at this point).

    This is a great post! Thanks again!

  6. I am just all smiley about the good stuff. I think in many ways teens can be so much more grateful for the smallest of things.

  7. I've experienced lots of firsts with Callie. First broadway show. First time she was allowed to have a sleepover. First time in a river. Teens tend to be more self sufficient which is nice if you want to parent without someone attached to your skirt all the time. Teens can be involved in their own if they decide to be adopted, it is something they chose with you instead of something you did to them.

  8. Baggage is so right. That is another great thing about older kids is that they can choose YOU. My daughter adopted us as much as we adopted her. Emily, you are not crazy for wanting to adopt teens. Maybe we should start a club and call it the Foster Adoptive Non-baby Fanatics Squad. The acronym could be F.A.N.Fan.S. Hee hee. --Torina

  9. um, what happened to that lovely list of the other blogs I read that used to be on the lower right corner?

    Because I'm a big ole dummy and never took the time to actually save them into my overcrowded and much abused fave list (thank you shared computer with teen daughters) and now can't figure out how to get to some of them.

    Is it coming back soon? Please?

  10. Sorry, Mrs. B.

    There used to be several blog rolls with headings "pre-parenting" "Parening little kids" etc. Those blog rolls are gone. Deleted. They exist no more.

    However, there is one long blog roll and all those blogs are on it. AND there is a box with the ten most recent posts from the blogs on the blog roll. So everyone is here, it is just that keeping up the separated blog rolls was just too difficult.

  11. Oh, I know it changed, like last month, right?

    But as of today (it worked last night though) I can't see the new lists- the ones with the 10 new posts, etc....I guess my computer is just having an issue or 2....oh well

    can everybody else still see them?

  12. hi do let me know if there are any couples willing to adopt teens.
    thanks in advance(:

  13. I really liked this, very true.

    One thing that I think is worth addressing too...

    It might be very difficult to explain to a child that you have raised from when they were a baby that they are adopted. This might be difficult for the child to understand. With a child that you are adopting they understand the adoption process and that they are adopted. This might be easier when it comes to answer the question, "who were my birth parents?" ... they might not (at this point) want to know who they are.

  14. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Hey, I stumbled across this blog because I have always wanted to adopt pre-teens/teens. I am too young and unestablished at the moment, but after a few more years I will be ready. I'm trying to pla now so there will be no problems when the time finally comes around.

    It has been very interesting reading all of your blogs and thoughts. Some of these prospectives are some that I never thought of, so thanks for giving me something new to think about!


  15. Anonymous10:56 PM

    I'm in the process of adopting a 15 year old- my 6th adoptive kid, and the third to be adopted as a teen. I can't say that there haven't been bumps in the road, but I wouldn't trade any of these kids for anything in the world. One of my boys had been in 14 foster placements, and 2 inpatient psychiatric placements when he came at age 16. He was a wonderful kid and now is a wonderful man, and the father of my only grandchild. There was something so amazing about watching him come to realize that he was staying, and then saying he wanted to get adopted- which he had never expressed before- life doesn't offer any greater opportunity than this. Three of my boys, including Nick, who I'm in the process of adopting now, came after the death of a parent- in two cases, the parent died within weeks of their being placed with me. Nick had 8 placements in the 18 months after his mom died- he didn't believe anyone would adopt him because of his age and history. He is now so excited about the adoption, he tells everyone he meets. I can't imagine my life without these kids- and I can't imagine any finer children than the teens I've been priveleged to adopt. Thanks for giving a forum for the subject-

  16. Wow, thank you so much for this blog post! We have been working toward getting matched with a teen seeking adoption for several months and we're just now beginning to spend time with a kid that we feel so incredibly excited about. The day his social worker told me that he was as interested in us as we are in him was the happiest day of my life. I come across so many dismal stories and warnings about older child adoption, and by "older" they usually mean kids who are between 3 and 9! We are truly interested in teenagers, for all the reasons described here. I would add to the list above that adopting a teen often means you get to experience that child at all stages of their life at once, because children who have been in foster care for an extended period of time have an unusual knack for spanning the full spectrum of human maturity as if they are 4 and 84 at the same time!

  17. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Im a 15 year old female and i really want to be adopted by may because my mother is moving to atlanta and she said i do not have to go and i really dont want to please please please i really want this

  18. im pallavi a 15 year old indian having a hell with my parents.they keep fighting all the time.idont want to live with them.someone please adopt me.please do email id is

  19. Anonymous11:39 AM

    Thank you so much for posting this and for the insightful comments listed by others as well. You really said it perfectly. We are in the process of looking for a match and our focus is on older kids (my personal ideal would be anywhere from 12 to 18 years old), and sometimes there are people who don't understand this desire.

    To me, it makes perfect sense and just feels right - but you really have put into words what I've always felt in my heart - and I've sent this link now to several friends because it really looks at things in a great way. Thanks!!

  20. My partner and I are in the process of adopting a 15-year-old boy, and I would love to know if there is an online discussion group for people who have adopted teens.

  21. Anonymous12:38 AM

    Really very, very inspiring. I have known for a long time that fostering/adoption is the right option, and when the time is right (I'm only 22 now) I will be adopting an older child or teen for all of your reasons listed above and more. I may not be his/her birth parent, but I will be his/her MOM for the rest of their life. <3

  22. it is so wonderful to see your blog. I work as a CASA for a fifteen year old in foster care, but I am thinking about being a social entrepreneur to advocate for adopting teenagers

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