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Adopting a teen?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I need a bit of wisdom and advice from the experienced mamas here.  :-)

 

My husband and I have two kids.  Older daughter will turn 8 in the fall, younger daughter is 3.5.  We always wanted at least two kids, possibly a third . . . at this point we are both feeling like we might want more kids in our family but I am almost 42 and not sure if we would be able to get pregnant/have another bio kid, or if I even want to go through pregnancy, birth, and years of breastfeeding again.  So, we have started discussing the possibility of adoption.  Years before I met DH I was licensed as a foster parent but never actually got a placement and then I moved out of state, but I did go through the training and also had a lot of professional experience in a juvenile court situation working with kids who had a lot of issues--so this is not an entirely novel idea and I have some inkling of some of the issues involved in fostering/adopting.  I am a little nervous about it (partly because of some of those experiences).  I also am pretty protective of my girls, and don't want to do anything that is going to put them at risk of being harmed or molested or generally end up with all of us being significantly less happy.  I didn't want to take on older kids in order to not disrupt the birth order or because of the aforementioned risk issues.

 

I started exploring a little bit, looked up foster/adoption stuff in our new state, and ended up on a national photolisting site--just to sort of get an idea of what we might be looking at if we were to go that route, kwim?  I came across the profile of a 15 year old girl.  Something about her face just sort of grabbed me, and I checked out her profile.  From the profile and the descriptions of the kid's interests, personality, what she is looking for in a family, I just felt like--wow, that kid might actually fit in with our family really well and we might be a good family for her!  This girl was also featured on a tv news spot--there was just something about her that seemed really sweet (of course I know these things are highly skewed toward the best possible picture . . .  but by the same token some kids' best possible pictures are not that appealing--like if Jimmy is described as an active kid who loves football, video games and ATV's, those are things we all dislike so they are not interests that we could share/bond over, kwim?)  I had not even considered adopting an older kid who would disrupt the birth order etc., but this girl is SO much older than my oldest she'd be kind of in a separate category--sort of like in bio families when people have a kid/kids and then have a big gap of many years and then have more so that the older ones are older already before the younger ones even come around, it's almost like having two separate groups of kids rather than only one big family (my grandma's family was like this, where the older ones were in HS by the time the younger set arrived fourteen years later).  Based on families I've seen like that and knowing how my kids interact with other people, I think my kids might end up relating to her more like they relate to older cousins or teenage babysitters (who them adore) than they would a playmate/peer/rival who is closer in age.  She is also African-American, and we are not, but because we are a multiracial/multicultural family anyway (I'm white, DH is from India, kids are mixed) it's not like any non-bio kid would look like all/any of us anyway and we are pretty open to including someone else's cultural identity/traditions/heritage.  I am a little concerned in that I wouldn't want a kid to feel like they didn't fit in or belong with us because of any of this--but OTOH, this kid also is from a large bio family (she's one of the older ones) and has 9 siblings who are all spread out in foster care/already adopted/on their own who she wants to keep contact with plus she'd probably be 16 already when she landed up in our home.  So I'm thinking that if I were in that position, I'd want it acknowledged that I'd had another family before/as well--I'd want to keep my own identity as part of that original family and as part of my bio siblings' family, as well as wanting to be accepted as part of the new family and I'd be looking ahead toward adulthood anyway.  Seems like she needs people to care for her and make her part of the family, but also who are going to help her launch in a few years and just always be the people she can come home to, even if she also wants/needs to be connected and in contact with her bio family as well.  Because this girl has a unique first name, I was able to do a little online snooping and find out a little more about her, the family, etc., than I otherwise would have known.  There are a few things that are concerning (one marijuana thing on a social media page of hers), but my impression is that this girl seems like a relatively normal teenager with normal teenage problems plus one very big problem of not having a family who can care for her (and will then have all the problems that come from that and from being in care, etc.).  Seems like she had a halfway normal life until she was at least about 8 or 9, and that even then she seems to have had some mentors and such and people who cared about her and provided some stability.

So, any thoughts on this?  Obviously this is a radical departure from the idea of having another bio-kid or an adopted kid younger than my youngest, lol, but somehow I sort of can't stop thinking about this girl.  Have I lost my marbles, lol?  Is this just a totally bad idea?  Are there things I should be thinking about that I'm not, or am I thinking of things in a way that I shouldn't?  We are set to attend a meeting this week and sign up for classes for fostering/adopting--DH is a little nervous but we agreed that to be even in a position to make any decision about whether this is something we want to do or not we need to get more information and pursue things a little further (with the idea that even if we decide against this we are in a good position to be able to do respite care without too much of a problem.)  I did contact the girl's caseworker but obviously we are not homestudied yet, so it's like, call back when you are.  DH is willing to potentially get on board with this girl in particular or with the idea of adoption in the future in general, and also felt a little tugging of the heartstrings for this particular girl (although not as much as me) but he is worried about the financial aspect of taking on responsibility for another kid (bio or adopted) right at this juncture as he is in a bit of a career slump/transition and is having a sort of issue with feeling like he's not being the provider he wants to be.  I know there are a lot of things to overcome to even get to the point of being able to take this on even if we do, and I'm not sure that we should.  Any thoughts?

post #2 of 9
It sounds like you are asking all the right questions of yourself. Of course, no one can answer them for you, but talking about it is always good. I am in the certification process to foster teen girls, so I am giving this a lot of thought, although my situation is different. My last two bio-kids still at home are 17 and 18, so some of the fears and issues are different. Although I am totally open to adoption, that isn't really my goal. My hope is that I can give a kid a safe, loving home for a couple years, a picture of how a healthy family can look, and a nudge in the direction of college or some other functional path. I would love for the kids I foster to see my home as a safe place to return to for the rest of my life. Adoption of a teen is complex situation at best. In a sense, she is being asked to create bonds of attachment exactly at the developmental stage when she "should" be separating and trying out her independence. In the past, I have fostered (nearly adopted) kids who came to me at age 6. Oops - I am late for work. Will come back tomorrow to finish this!
post #3 of 9

Well, I think the chances of adopting that particular girl are rather slim since you're not yet licensed/ homestudied and sometimes that can take a while. On the same note, if she's photolisted and has a video then she's probably been waiting a while and might still be available by the time you guys get all your paperwork and stuff done.

 

I think you should definitely move forward with getting homestudied. It can't hurt anything and will only make it easier if/when you choose to adopt any child. Plus, the process will uncover things for you that can help you decide what age would be best for your family. I'd also say talk to friends and family to get an idea on how well they'd accept a teen and how much support they might offer you.Lastly, I'd suggest reading some books, blogs, etc. about adopting teens to learn more.

 

Sorry I don't have any personal experience type of advice. We have only one son who was adopted when he was 2. We have always talked about adopting or fostering teens but we talk about doing it later in life when our son is grown and we're retired.

post #4 of 9

Just keep in mind that what you see on a profile is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course its totally possible that this is a typical teen girl with normal teen problems. But its also possible that she has way more issues than you feel you can handle. The only way to find out is to find out more. 

 

I'm kind of surprised that a caseworker would blow you off if you're not homestudied, if its a teen they are having trouble finding a home for. Often they will expedite a homestudy process or hook you up with their own agency and get you approved more quickly if they think you are a match for a particular child. 

post #5 of 9

Some states require your foster/adopt child to be the youngest in your family.

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

Some states require your foster/adopt child to be the youngest in your family.

 

I've never heard that. Which states require it?

post #7 of 9

You just have to be really careful with teens. They come with a longer history than younger children. I adopted a 14 year old who is now 17 and it's like walking on eggshells everyday. And he was a direct consent adoption, not from foster care. 

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks everybody for your input.  It's a tough choice, that's for sure.  We went to an initial meeting with the county foster/adoption program Thursday evening, got our initial paperwork turned in and then we are signed up for classes in October/November.  I think one good thing was that my DH is more on board than I expected with the whole idea after the meeting--I was a little worried that he was going to sort of want to bail (actually I was the one who felt like bailing after the meeting, lol) but he was actually like, well, there are a lot of kids in foster care that need homes.  So, we'll see how it all goes.  I talked to a friend of mine who has several adopted children, and she pointed out a few things and it made me consider whether maybe we should actually work on fostering and maybe take some younger children.  I guess we'll have to see what the future holds!

post #9 of 9

My ex and I adopted a teen girl. We were foster/adopt parents and only took kids from 2-9 (bio kids were around 3 and 13 at the time). We did foster care for the state and for the local Native American tribe. The tribe called on a Friday and begged us to take a 16yo girl for the weekend only; as the group home was overcrowded. Well, we said yes, figured that two nights wouldn't hurt. She was fantastic, we all got along great, so we kept her, went from foster to legal guardianship, then adopted. She is/was a typical teen. She had typical teen issues. She is not perfect, but was not particularly difficult or challenging.....aside from what I consider normal teen stuff. 

 

I think you are on the right path, and the right child will come to you :)

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