When Megan and Jeremy first became foster parents, they set some very firm boundaries: Nobody over the age of 10, and ideally someone younger than their biological son. Fast forward to November 2020, when their family finalized their first adoption — of a teenage girl! Their unexpected change of heart changed the life of an Indiana teenager in foster care.
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 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.
David and Dayna’s adoption journey led them to adopt four younger children from foster care. But once the Atkinsons learned about how many teens in Indiana need forever families, there was no doubt that their journey wasn’t over yet.
We often ask the youth in our program to share what family means to them. What do they hope their new family will be like? What would they want prospective families to know? What do they love? What are some of their pet peeves? It turns out that what’s true of most people also holds true for the children and youth in need of adoptive families: ask them questions, be genuinely interested in the answers, and you’ll learn a lot!
Ask anyone who has adopted from foster care about their child, and you’re sure to hear some great things. If they’re honest, they may share some not so great things, too. Parenting an adopted child can have its ups and downs. The key to making it through these challenging times is not to focus on changing the child. It might be better to change your definition of success and progress.
Berta, a full-time teacher and foster mom, first met 9-year-old Zoe when Zoe started 3rd grade at Berta’s school. That was the year that Zoe was removed from her home due to neglect. As a foster parent, Berta understood Zoe’s situation – and as a teacher, she was especially aware of the impact that entering foster care could have on Zoe’s education.
After interviewing for several children and not being selected as the right family for any of them, Scott and Lori Wilson reached out to their adoption consultant for advice. Being open to that advice, and a different approach, allowed the Wilsons to add 3 children to their family almost immediately.
If you have biological kids, you wonder how adoption will affect them. Should you worry about birth order? How much of a “say” should you give your biological children in your decision to adopt? We asked a biological child to share her experience of going from being an only child to being the oldest of 6.
Shannon and Hubert Schulz do not shy away from a challenge. They fostered and adopted not 1, not 2, but 6 children from Indiana Adoption Program, each with their own unique set of circumstances and struggles. But the Schulzes have always been clear on this point: the world should expect great things from their kids.