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Old 05-27-2013, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Florida
5,661 posts, read 3,642,084 times
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My husband and I have two (biological) children, ages 12 and 10. I am so very happy to be past the baby/toddler/preschooler phases of childhood with them! I am enjoying them so much more now that they are a bit more independent and we can have actual conversations. We also greatly enjoy hosting foreign exchange students, who come when they are 16.

We have casually bandied around the idea of adoption since before we had our first, but lately I am feeling more and more drawn toward adoption... but not of a baby or young child. Knowing how difficult it is for young adults who were brought up in foster care when they don't have families to turn to in their late teens/20s, we have been discussing the possibility of adopting a teenager through the foster care system. (We are not foster parents.)

Has anyone done this? Particularly with preteens or young teens in the house? At this point, we're thinking that it will have to wait until our own children are nearly out of their teens... but has anyone adopted with younger kids still at home?
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Kansas
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I suggest you start googling for articles on this if you aren't aware of the types of issues that teens in foster care have. I have seen this done but not with younger kids in the house. I really believe that you need experience parenting teens or be very familiar with teens from other experiences. Keep in mind that older kids become the role models for the younger kids. We looked into adopting older children when we had a 7 year old. We adopted a younger child. I sometimes think it would be great once our older son moves out to adopt a smaller sibling group. We have experience but may be too worn out from getting that experience to parent again.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:52 AM
 
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Bless you for wanting to adopt from foster care -- there are so many children in need of homes! However, conventional wisdom is that you should keep birth order the same. That means you'd want to adopt children who are YOUNGER than your children, rather than older.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:07 AM
 
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I think it's wonderful that you are considering adopting a teen from foster care.

Most will probably recommend that you wait until your kids are older or out on their own. There can be issues/unique challenges to consider, but the good news is you have time to prepare/learn what will be best for your family. Best of luck!

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 05-28-2013 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Florida
5,661 posts, read 3,642,084 times
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I have read that keeping birth order the same is important, so I think that we would be better off to wait until our youngest, who is 10 now, is graduated from high school, or close to it. In the meantime, maybe I'll look into mentoring... I was a "big" for Big Brothers Big Sisters 15 years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the tips!
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:15 AM
 
11,151 posts, read 14,116,949 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherTouchOfWhimsy View Post
I have read that keeping birth order the same is important, so I think that we would be better off to wait until our youngest, who is 10 now, is graduated from high school, or close to it. In the meantime, maybe I'll look into mentoring... I was a "big" for Big Brothers Big Sisters 15 years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the tips!
That's an excellent idea. I don't know if you'd also want to consider something like respite care, in which you'd take in foster children for, at most, a few days at a time? This gives the regular foster parents a break and it's possible that the kids would be on their best behavior with you, since it's kind of like a vacation for them as well. That would give you actual experience with foster children, since they're really not going to be much like the foreign exchange students you've previously hosted.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:20 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
18,586 posts, read 23,126,842 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherTouchOfWhimsy View Post
My husband and I have two (biological) children, ages 12 and 10. I am so very happy to be past the baby/toddler/preschooler phases of childhood with them! I am enjoying them so much more now that they are a bit more independent and we can have actual conversations. We also greatly enjoy hosting foreign exchange students, who come when they are 16.

We have casually bandied around the idea of adoption since before we had our first, but lately I am feeling more and more drawn toward adoption... but not of a baby or young child. Knowing how difficult it is for young adults who were brought up in foster care when they don't have families to turn to in their late teens/20s, we have been discussing the possibility of adopting a teenager through the foster care system. (We are not foster parents.)

Has anyone done this? Particularly with preteens or young teens in the house? At this point, we're thinking that it will have to wait until our own children are nearly out of their teens... but has anyone adopted with younger kids still at home?
First of all, I commend you for thinking about adopting an older child! Especially a teenager. Your sympathies are not misplaced - teenagers who age out of the system have a very difficult time of it.

There are some realities to address, before you take the plunge and adopt a teen.

As others have mentioned, conventional wisdom tells parents who want to adopt to preserve the birth order. I agree with this.

Second, I would caution you that many of the teens who are available, both in US foster care and in other countries are victims of sexual abuse, and are or have been, sexually active.
I recently inquired about a sibling group that consisted of a 16 year old boy and a 7 year old girl.
We felt very badly about this group because many families had turned them down because of the age of the boy, and the children had good reports from their care givers.

I also happen to enjoy teenagers. Like yourself, I have no desire to revisit the "diaper" stage. I thought that sib group would work well.

My adoption facilitator did not. Her reason? My seventeen year old daughter. If he were to enter our family, he may see us as a son, but to him, my daughter will not automatically be seen as a sister. He might see her as a girlfriend.

This does not mean that I would never adopt a teen. I would never upset the birth order though, and I would adopt a child of the same gender as my youngest child.
When your children are older, you might want to look into adopting a teen who is younger than they are.

For now, ever eight and nine year olds have a hard time finding homes. Especially boys.

A book that you might find helpful is "Adopting the Hurt Child" by Gregory Keck.

Your local state agency most likely gives classes for parents who want to adopt from foster care.
Generally, they do not sugar coat anything.

If I were you, I would start there!

Best of luck in building your family!
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:41 PM
 
1,024 posts, read 984,274 times
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Moderator Cut

Quote:
A book that you might find helpful is "Adopting the Hurt Child" by Gregory Keck.

Your local state agency most likely gives classes for parents who want to adopt from foster care.
Generally, they do not sugar coat anything.

If I were you, I would start there!

Best of luck in building your family!
This is very good advice.

Also you may be interested in reviewing the advice on this link:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/fa...t_teenager.pdf

Last edited by Jaded; 05-31-2013 at 12:42 PM.. Reason: Argumentative and Off-topic
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Chicago area
1,105 posts, read 2,898,064 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherTouchOfWhimsy View Post
My husband and I have two (biological) children, ages 12 and 10. I am so very happy to be past the baby/toddler/preschooler phases of childhood with them! I am enjoying them so much more now that they are a bit more independent and we can have actual conversations. We also greatly enjoy hosting foreign exchange students, who come when they are 16.

We have casually bandied around the idea of adoption since before we had our first, but lately I am feeling more and more drawn toward adoption... but not of a baby or young child. Knowing how difficult it is for young adults who were brought up in foster care when they don't have families to turn to in their late teens/20s, we have been discussing the possibility of adopting a teenager through the foster care system. (We are not foster parents.)

Has anyone done this? Particularly with preteens or young teens in the house? At this point, we're thinking that it will have to wait until our own children are nearly out of their teens... but has anyone adopted with younger kids still at home?
I have not adopted a teen from foster care but I was one once so I know a few things about it. I think it would be a wonderful thing to do and I hope you'll go through with it. For that one teen it can make the difference between a stable, successful life and life on the street. Older kids needs parents too. I think that's especially true once they start to reach adulthood. There are still a lot of things you need help and support with when you first get out on your own and without it a lot of young adults end up failing.

If I can give one piece of advice it would be to adopt the right kid for your family, not just any kid who needs a home. It is very, very important for all parties that it's a good match. The consequences for a bad match can be disasterous. You should get a chance to get to know the kid some before placement and if you don't feel it's a good match don't go through with it. I'm sure it would feel horrible to walk away but you wouldn't be doing the kid a favor by creating a not well functional family with him or her.

There are a lot of myths out there about what foster kids are like and although it may be true for some kids it certainly isn't for all. Teens in foster care are just as varied as teens anywhere. Some are wild and out of control while some are mellow book worms. They are more likely to have more serious problems than the average kid but the problems can often be dealt with in the right situation. These teens are probably not going to be much like the exchange students you've hosted and you have to be prepared for dealing with emotional, psychological and behavioral problems. But, despite what you may hear, these kids are generally not dangerous or harmful to their family. Most are nice kids who are trying to deal with a lot of hurt.
I mostly lived in group homes and similar institutions but I also lived in three different foster homes. One of the families were really great. They were warm and welcoming and tried hard to help me feel at home. I was no saint as a teen and got in trouble on numerous occasions but while I lived with this family I did better than ever. I think that's proof that the right environment and right people can make all the difference.

Mentoring first is a good idea, I believe, for both you and the kid you mentor. In my area there is a mentoring program especially for older teen foster kids who will or have aged out. If you could mentor someone from this population you could make a huge difference. I aged out at 18 and going from a group home with staff that took care of everything to being on my own over night was a huge shock to my system. I wasn't prepared at all and had no idea how to even do something simple as pay a bill. Having someone to help with these things means a lot.
I was fortunate that I had contact with most of my family so I had places to go on holidays and someone to get me a birthday present but many kids don't have any of that. They have nowhere to celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving and end up sitting alone in their little apartment. One girl I knew would take several sleeping pills on the big holidays so she could just sleep through it and not have to deal with the hurt. A mentor isn't the same as family but the mentor can at least try to fill some of the role of one, such as buying birthday presents and helping with practicalities like how to set up phone service, etc. Just be there and show you care even through the bad times.


I'm sure you'll do great as a parent of a fostered teen whenever you do decide to go through with it.
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Florida
5,661 posts, read 3,642,084 times
Reputation: 10613
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizita View Post
I have not adopted a teen from foster care but I was one once so I know a few things about it. I think it would be a wonderful thing to do and I hope you'll go through with it. For that one teen it can make the difference between a stable, successful life and life on the street. Older kids needs parents too. I think that's especially true once they start to reach adulthood. There are still a lot of things you need help and support with when you first get out on your own and without it a lot of young adults end up failing.

If I can give one piece of advice it would be to adopt the right kid for your family, not just any kid who needs a home. It is very, very important for all parties that it's a good match. The consequences for a bad match can be disasterous. You should get a chance to get to know the kid some before placement and if you don't feel it's a good match don't go through with it. I'm sure it would feel horrible to walk away but you wouldn't be doing the kid a favor by creating a not well functional family with him or her.

There are a lot of myths out there about what foster kids are like and although it may be true for some kids it certainly isn't for all. Teens in foster care are just as varied as teens anywhere. Some are wild and out of control while some are mellow book worms. They are more likely to have more serious problems than the average kid but the problems can often be dealt with in the right situation. These teens are probably not going to be much like the exchange students you've hosted and you have to be prepared for dealing with emotional, psychological and behavioral problems. But, despite what you may hear, these kids are generally not dangerous or harmful to their family. Most are nice kids who are trying to deal with a lot of hurt.
I mostly lived in group homes and similar institutions but I also lived in three different foster homes. One of the families were really great. They were warm and welcoming and tried hard to help me feel at home. I was no saint as a teen and got in trouble on numerous occasions but while I lived with this family I did better than ever. I think that's proof that the right environment and right people can make all the difference.

Mentoring first is a good idea, I believe, for both you and the kid you mentor. In my area there is a mentoring program especially for older teen foster kids who will or have aged out. If you could mentor someone from this population you could make a huge difference. I aged out at 18 and going from a group home with staff that took care of everything to being on my own over night was a huge shock to my system. I wasn't prepared at all and had no idea how to even do something simple as pay a bill. Having someone to help with these things means a lot.
I was fortunate that I had contact with most of my family so I had places to go on holidays and someone to get me a birthday present but many kids don't have any of that. They have nowhere to celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving and end up sitting alone in their little apartment. One girl I knew would take several sleeping pills on the big holidays so she could just sleep through it and not have to deal with the hurt. A mentor isn't the same as family but the mentor can at least try to fill some of the role of one, such as buying birthday presents and helping with practicalities like how to set up phone service, etc. Just be there and show you care even through the bad times.


I'm sure you'll do great as a parent of a fostered teen whenever you do decide to go through with it.
Thank you for all of this great advice!

What type of agency would I call about mentoring a teen who is going to be aging out soon? I could try with the BBBS office, but I don't know if they handle that sort of thing...
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