Reading child summaries can be daunting: they outline every difficult thing that has happened to a foster child, and sometimes it can feel as though the child’s challenges and needs outweigh the strengths and positives. While the summary does include the child’s strengths, likes and dislikes, what they hope for in a family, and so on, reading those words isn’t the same as experiencing the child in person. After all, humans are too complex to be summed up by words on a page.
Ask anyone who’s raised children through the teenage years, and they’ll tell you, parenting a teen is not for the faint of heart! Maybe you have a pre-adoptive placement who has just entered adolescence and you’re finding it challenging to connect with them. Or maybe you’ve just been matched with a teenager who is about to move into your home and you’re panicking about how to relate to them. You are not alone! We’ve put together some tips on how to make the teen years a little more enjoyable (or at least a little less daunting) for everyone involved.
As a single man in his 50′s, Andrew never saw himself as a father. “I thought the whole idea was pretty much preposterous, you know. My age. Single. What business do I have doing this?” said Andrew. But when Andrew saw Alex’s news segment, he saw so much of himself in Alex that he knew he wanted to help. Seven months after meeting Alex and just three days before Alex’s 18th birthday, their adoption day arrived. Andrew surprised Alex with cake, and Alex was thrilled to make it official. “After 13 years, it’s good,” said Alex. “After 13 years, I’m done. Out of the system!”
Hosting match events is one of the most enjoyable activities we get to do at Indiana Adoption Program. These events are held every couple of months, and bring together recommended pre-adoptive families with youth who are looking for their forever home. Match events can be magical to watch — we get to see a room of timid kids and adults turn from strangers to fast friends in just a few short hours.
For teens in foster care, turning 18 offers a very different reality. They don’t have that safe place to call home. The home most of us can go to when things get hard, or family to call when we need advice. While nothing compares to the forever family every youth deserves, there are resources in place for Indiana teens at risk of “aging out” of foster care.