5 Reasons why you should seriously consider adopting a teenager
If someone asked you to picture an image of adoption in your mind, it's probably unlikely that you'd imagine a teenager in need of a home.
The truth is, though, that approximately one in five youths in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted are teenagers, and the total number of teens in foster care continues to rise.
Unfortunately, teenagers on AdoptUSKids.org are likely to face an especially challenging road to adoption. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, after the termination of parental rights, teens 15-17 wait twice as long for an adoptive home as those aged 14 and under.
It's clear, however, that children of every age need guidance and care from a parental figure, and anyone who's been a teenager knows what a pivotal time adolescence is; it's a crucial turning point as we begin to shape ourselves into the adults we become in our later lives.
“Many of these young people are experiencing foster care through no fault of their own, and I believe we must do a better job of highlighting the importance a forever family has on these older youths’ wellbeing and the impact it plays on their transition to adulthood," says Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau.
"We know family, by any definition, is the best resource we have to create an environment for young people to be safe, healthy, and ultimately thrive.”
As a parent, it’s natural to think about creating memories of your child’s “firsts” – but there’s no reason firsts have to stop at early childhood. Here are some of the wonderful firsts you’ll experience with an adopted teenager from foster care.
1. Getting their first driver's license
A driver's license is a rite of passage for every teen; it's their first real taste of freedom. It's a milestone both the parent and teen will never forget, the first real beacon of impending adulthood. Those first few times in the passenger seat might be absolutely terrifying - but giving someone that sense of liberation is a special gift.
2. First date nerves
The impact of a positive parental figure on a teen's attitude towards dating and relationships is invaluable. After all, who doesn't remember their parents asking absurd questions before a first date?
3. The first big game
Some of the fondest memories of our youth were of hearing our parents cheer us on during sporting events. There is no way to explain just what that means to a teen, but - you'll just have to trust us on this one - they'll never, ever forget it.
4. Handling a breakup
Sure, those first date outfits are adorable, and you can have a good-natured laugh at just how liberally they've sprayed their aftershave on themselves before heading out - but what's more important is the way you pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong. One of the most valuable lessons you can teach is how to recover from heartbreak; and equipping them with the tools they need and can use throughout their lives.
5. Getting into college
The day your teen leaves for college will be a momentous one. You’ll remember everything – from the music you listened to on the way there to the fight you had about what goes where in the dorm room. But make no mistake, this is the moment your teen will be glad they have your love and support.
It's easy to envision early milestones such as first steps or first words in a young person's life, but hopefully now you've considered these momentous teenage firsts, it's clear that they can carry the same level of significance. When you adopt a teen from foster care the impact of a loving family is felt and remembered for a lifetime.
For more information about becoming an adoptive parent to a teen from foster care, please visit AdoptUSKids.org or call 1-888-200-4005 to receive information about the foster care system and the adoption process.