The Indiana Adoption Program Blog
In many ways, parenting an adopted teenager is no different than parenting a biological teen. There are also some key differences, though. In this post, we look at two elements of parenting adopted teens: brain development and identity.
Alex longs for an adoptive family, but at 17, he worries that won’t happen before he ages out of foster care. Still, he’s hopeful for parents who will embrace and support him as he grows into young adulthood.
After 5 years in foster care, Kiaera remains optimistic about finding a forever family. “I have to keep my hopes up,” she says. Soft-spoken and bubbly, she’s enthusiastic about the possibilities her future holds, and is eager for a family to be her constant.
Adoptive parents Shelly and Michelle are the first to acknowledge that adopting siblings from foster care hasn’t always been an easy road. At times, the couple felt like they were being pushed to their limits, but now they consider those experiences as preparing them to be the best parents possible for Matthew and Alex.
When Rachel and Kevin got married, they always envisioned children in their future. But they quickly learned that Rachel’s health concerns would make it nearly impossible for them to have children of their own. Fortunately, they knew there was a great need for foster and adoptive families, so Rachel and Kevin decided to get licensed as foster parents. What they couldn’t anticipate, though, was how drastically their lives would change after adopting a child who had a traumatic brain injury.
As a fifth-grade teacher, Melissa Lafever always kept a close eye on a student named Gina, whose mother had passed away. Melissa knew Gina was being placed into foster care as a result — but what Melissa didn’t know was how much she would be impacted by the news. Melissa and her husband Shawn started the adoption process and welcomed Gina into their family in 2019. This year, the Lafever family also welcomed Gina’s brother Dean into the family too.
When we talked with Joel and Deborah in 2015, they shared their “all-in” approach to parenting: if you’re going to do it, do it all the way, with all your heart. “We were all-in from the moment we met [our boys]. We were learning them and they were learning us. We had to learn real quick,” laughs Joel. It’s been 10 years since the boys’ adoptions were finalized, and the family doesn’t think much about labels like “adopted” or “biological.”
While we focus on celebrating adoption during National Adoption Month, it’s also important to hear what young people in foster care are saying about what they need in a family, what they want, what’s most important to them. Encouraging youth to have a voice in their permanency planning is empowering and keeps the focus where it should be: on what is in the child’s best interests.