I really haven't written much about teenage adoption. My adopted teen does read my blog. I told her that I wanted to write about teenage adoption and asked her what I should include. She said to write that people don't want teenagers, they want little kids. But if you do go that route be prepared.... to buy lots of food, to deal with random mood swings and.....then she said for me to be nice. Haha, I know why she said to be nice. She knows of the struggles we have had. It has not been an easy experience so I will try to write in general terms. Every child is unique and every child comes with their own personality. They are all surprise packages.
What can you expect? Imagine everything that a child should have learned at home by the age of 16, 17 or whatever age you are considering. Imagine that they have not learned any of it. Nothing. No study skills, no cooking skills, no respect, no routine, no life skills that you consider important.
They may have learned life skills that were important in their world. These skills may include lying, stealing, manipulation and any other survival skill that has helped them to survive in their world. Having said that, it doesn't mean that they aren't open to an alternative and aren't willing to learn new life skills. Change, however, is hard and backsliding will happen.
The teen years are difficult for most kids. Teen years are the years are a time of pulling away. A time of learning independence. So adopting a teen and trying to form attachment at a time when the teen should be pulling away can be precarious. That doesn't mean that it is impossible. In my experience though, the teen has to want it. I think that is a very important aspect because their time is short. They don't have 10 or 15 years until they are ready to leave the nest. They may have a very short period of time.
Kassi came to us as a foster child at the age of 16 1/2, she was adopted at the age of 17 1/2. Not much time to form bonds and learn new skills.
School has been difficult for Kassi because she was so far behind when she came. Combined with a lack of organizational and study skills and it was impossible for her to graduate with her class. She has passed her state testing so hopefully next year she will complete her credits for graduation. She plans on doing the same online program that Sarah did to graduate. Learning that going to class on time every day and that every assignment needs to be turned in are some skills that she is still working on. Hopefully she will learn these skills before she starts a job!
We have dealt with the mood swings and other behaviors that come with a teen. There have been times that we have really struggled. Times when we had to take things day by day. But with each day is a new opportunity to start over. Relationships among the older siblings have been strained at times. They have also been close at times. In the long run we are family with the good, bad, pretty and ugly. Love and perhaps even a little insanity bind us together. We are still growing and learning how to live as a family of many different personalities.
Considering a teen? Go for it, it is not impossible. Practice your patience and forgiveness. Remember to love unconditionally.
Every child deserves a family, a home to come to for the holidays when they are grown and a place to bring their children. Everyone deserves to be loved, unconditionally.