Many people adopt hoping to hear the pitter patter of little feet in their home. However, there are some advantages to replacing those gentle footsteps with the loud clomp of teenage’s feet! If you are adopting a teen, here are a few advantages you can look forward to:
- No diapers! I think this one speaks for itself.
- Communication! You will be able to have a fully fledged conversation with your child using actual, distinguishable words (as long as he is willing to talk. Teenage boys, in particular, are often fans of comfortable silence).
- Shared interests. Maybe you love Star Wars, or football, or musicals. Odds are there is a kid in foster care in your state, maybe even your town, who would love to sit and watch “Empire Strikes Back,” or “The Bears Game,” or even the “Hamilton” PBS special with you. With babies or toddlers? You’re stuck with The Wiggles.
- Teenagers sleep! Sometimes until noon. As the mother of a 2 and a half-year-old who pops up on Saturday mornings at 6 AM ready to hit the ground running, I can’t tell you how magical that sounds.
- You’re helping a child who truly needs a home. Teens are the hardest to place in families, especially if they are male or part of a sibling group. Many teens grow out of the foster care system without finding a forever family.
Many families going into adoption feel like adopting a teen means they’ll “only” have him for a few years before he goes off into the world. While it’s true that you’ll have fewer years with him under your roof than you would with an infant, if he is in college, or living independently doesn’t mean you won’t still be his parent and the center of his life. College kids come home for long breaks (and bring their laundry and their friends with them). Young adults working and living independently will be as present in your life as you want them to be. Maybe you are someone who is interested in adoption, but your other children are all adults or teens. Can you really see yourself going back to the land of spit-up and total dependency?
Yes, infants and toddlers are small and adorable, but as the mom of a toddler, I can tell you all those sleepless nights, diaper blowouts, tantrums and (my current nemesis) potty-training are not all they’re cracked up to be. Teenagers, while they have their own unique parenting challenges, can offer you a kind of connection you can’t get with a baby. Above all else, teens need homes the most. More than 20,000 teens age out of foster care every year, and the reality for children who do is dismal and marked with homelessness, joblessness, and having a child who will become part of the foster care system. If you’re considering adopting a teen, while it’s important to make this consideration with care, know that there are many advantages to doing so.
Julianna Mendelsohn lives in sunny South Florida where, odds are, it is hot enough right now that she’s sweating just a little, no matter what she’s doing. She is the brains, brawn, blood, sweat, and tears behind The Adoption Mentor and is thrilled to be able to help others build their families through adoption. She is a former elementary school teacher, current MS in school counseling student, Sephora junkie, and the momma via domestic adoption to one lovely daughter.