Inside: The process of adopting a teenager, with tips on how to get started.
Adopting a teenager is such an amazing thing to do, not to mention needed. Recent studies show that of the around 400,000 children in foster care, there are over 117,000 are waiting to be taken in with a family and adopted.
Though children in foster care range from babies to 21 years old, the need for teen adoption is higher than ever.
Many people aren’t interested in a teen because they feel it would be harder to bond with or that they wouldn’t have much time with them to make a difference in their life… but that is simply not true.
Adopting a teenager from foster care comes with its struggles of course, but so would adopting a baby. Though it may feel like you won’t have much time with them, realistically when you make a connection like that it doesn’t just stop at 18. You get to be there for their milestones from the moment you adopt them, for the rest of their lives.
Did your parents stop being there for you when you became a legal adult? No! So why would you?
Teenagers are statistically less likely to be adopted. The numbers start to decline after they reach the age of twelve and get lower and lower as they age. This is not fair, these children desire a good home with a loving family just as much as a baby does.
So if you are open to adopting a teen, then there are some things you need to know before getting the ball rolling. Let’s get into the what, when, why, where, and how…shall we?
Why should I adopt a Teenager?
Well, of course for some of the reasons for adopting a teenager are mentioned above. Here are some other ideas to think about.
1. Teens are in desperate need of homes across not only the U.S. but the world. Whether they were in homes that were abusive, or neglectful, or if they lost their parents and have nowhere to go, these children deserve to have a stable, loving support system.
2. It gives you the opportunity to make a difference in their life. Becoming a mentor, a teacher, and a positive role model for a teen can have positive ripple effects that will continue throughout their whole life.
3. Teens are able to express their wants and needs in a way that a child cannot. Objectively you may feel like there is more of a barrier in terms of connecting, and that can sometimes be the case, but in reality having an older child who can express how they are feeling gives you MORE of an opportunity for connecting, quicker.
4. A teenager still deeply appreciates the small things that come with a stable home. Things like family dinners, game nights, and their favorite snacks. It doesn’t have to be too complicated.
5. They are old enough to understand what they are missing out on, and that will make them appreciate you taking them in even more.
I could go on forever, but the bottom line is that adopting a child is hard regardless of age. Each will come with its own setbacks and hardships, so it’s up to you to decide what you want to do. It’s a very honorable thing, to add someone to your family. It multiplies the love and can have the ability to completely change the life path of the child.
What happens when a teen stays in foster care?
Children who are raised in foster care are at a significantly higher risk for physical and mental health issues. Without proper one-on-one care, they are shown to display:
- Learning disabilities
- Cognitive delays
- Developmental delays
- Problems with Behavior
Compared to a child who was not raised in foster care, these numbers are astronomically higher. You may be thinking to yourself at this moment, but wouldn’t it be better to get a child out of foster care as soon as possible to help avoid these things?
Absolutely, adopting at any age is important. But consider this; that thought process is exactly why teens are going unadopted. Of course, adopting earlier may have things that make it easier to raise the child, but you never know what kind of effects their time there, no matter how short, can have down the pipeline.
If they go unadopted, these teens will have to deal with all of these things alone. According to Youth.gov, teens who age out of the foster care system were considered 4 times more likely to think about and attempt suicide than those who were not. This is heavy, I know. But it’s the facts.
By adopting a teenager, you could be saving a life.
Will our family be supported after adopting a teen?
There are so many states and organizations that are there to help provide assistance in the form of financial aid. I understand that one of the most asked questions when a family is considering adopting a teen is how will we afford their schooling and college?
Teens who were adopted at the age of 13 years old or up qualify for better financial aid in school due to schools not considering the family income when they apply. Teens who are adopted at the age of 16 and up are likely to be able to receive around $5000 in student vouchers a year.
For medical and mental health help, families can potentially receive aid and monthly funding for help with those things until the child is of age. The government really does its part for those who are willing to adopt.
How do you adopt a Teenager?
Adoption can be a lengthy process, but a worthwhile one.
Step One: Educate yourself on adopting a teenager.
Learning as much as you can about what it is like to adopt a child, and the process that comes with that is crucial. You want to be as prepared as possible for your future new family member. A good place to get started is AdoptUsKids.
They provide information about children in care and talk about resources you can use to gain a solid understanding of foster children.
Childwelfare.gov covers all of the things you should be thinking about prior to adopting. Things like preparing yourself emotionally and physically for a new child. It’s a wonderful place to go for resources.
You can also watch informational videos on youtube. There are plenty of people who filmed the process, and blog style, to make it easier to digest. It’s also a great way to get yourself excited!
Step Two: Contacting an Agency
You can do this locally at a public agency. These will help you along the process. They may recommend that you get a fostering parent license, even if you are intending straight away to supply a forever home for a child. Having that license can expedite the process.
Another way you can get started is to contact an adoption agency. These agencies will help you with many of the same things. Things like training, helping you find a child and also providing services to help you after you have adopted.
Step Three: Go to an Orientation Meeting
These meetings about adopting a teenager will go over many must-know things to learn when you are adopting. You’ll be learning about children in foster care, their needs, and your role as an adoptive parent. They’ll go over the steps and process of what it is like to adopt as well as cover many other things that will help you along this journey.
Because it is just that, a journey.
Teenagers can teach us so much, it’s not just them who benefit from adoption. Caring for another person can show you how important it is to give, to get you outside of yourself, and teach you to grow in so many areas that you can’t even imagine.
Overall, adopting a teen is so worth it. For them, and you. We here at MommaTeen have many articles that go over tips and things to know when raising a teen, as well as some of the fun ways to make their childhood extra special. I hope you loved learning about the process of adopting a teenager, and all of the things you need to know before you can get started.