Teens in the foster care system are often overlooked when it comes to adoption. There are many misconceptions with regards to older adolescents in these situations, and below are just a few of them. With patience and understanding, we can begin to dispel these myths and help others see how teens in foster care can be welcome and loving additions to established homes.
1. Teens in foster care have “done something” to end up in care.
Most teens in foster care are in care as a result of actions on the part of their parents or legal guardians. Sometimes this includes abuse, neglect, drug use, criminal activity, or some other outside factor that the teen has no part in whatsoever. As a result, and for their safety and welfare, they are removed from the environment and placed into foster care.
2. Mental issues can’t be fixed in teens who have been in the system.
To start, many teens may not have any mental health issues at all! But there are some teens who have been in foster care who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other conditions that may be better managed in a stable home environment. Adoption can provide these teens with the stable home they need in order to thrive. Once these teens know that their home situation is secure, they may be better able to cope with their symptoms and, in turn, can lead to better days ahead.
3. Adopting a teen can be too expensive.
The foster care system can actually be the best way for families to expand without crippling their finances. Federal tax credits are available for adoptive families, and many upfront expenses may be covered by the state to transition a teen from foster care to permanent adoption. In many situations, the time frame from start to completion can be expedited as well.
4. Teens in foster care will be legal adults soon and don’t necessarily “need” a family.
It’s true that at age 18, we are all legal adults. But at 18, are we really fully equipped – mentally, physically, and financially – to be on our own? Many people still need a family to call their own and rely on when they need help or advice. Teens can also gain a sense of security knowing that if anything goes wrong, they know that they have someone they can call on to provide reassurance or guidance for whatever they are encountering in their lives.
5. Adopted teens have trouble adjusting to children already in the home.
Many teens in foster care may have had siblings of their own, or have had foster brothers or sisters in previous homes they have resided in. They may be missing having siblings close in age and will likely welcome having someone to socialize with.
6. Foster teens may require more time/money/etc. then I can give.
Foster teens who become adopted simply want stability, compassion, and love. These things can be given freely, from the heart, without a lot of expense. It just takes the right person to make a connection with a teen who simply wants a forever family.