Teen Talk

Teen Talk

Oftentimes when we discuss adoption, we focus on the home study process, the waiting period, placement and bonding, and contact with birth parents. Much of this discussion revolves around first-time parents, infants and/or very young children. The truth is, however, that these young adoptees grow into adolescent adoptees. You may even adopt your child when he or she is already on the threshold of adolescence and no one has ever raised the unique concerns associated with talking to teenagers about their adoption.

Unlike younger children who are typically enthralled with stories recounting their birth and adoption, adolescents may suddenly become hesitant in approaching this subject with their peers or parents. Their developmental level allows them to begin looking at this event with greater detail, analyzing the story they’ve always known in a new way. As if the teenage years weren’t already challenging, a teen’s adoption story and any related unanswered questions may create an added layer of distress, or at the least an added layer of curiosity.

So, how should you respond as parents, and how can you prepare yourselves to address their questions without coming across as threatened or overbearing? The two articles below do a great job of defining typical concerns raised by adolescent adoptees, as well as providing practical advice to parents who want to engage their children in healthy conversations.

http://www.nacac.org/adoptalk/talkingwithteen.html

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/adoption-and-foster-care/Pages/Talking-to-Your-Teen-About-Being-Adopted.aspx

 

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New Year, New Beginnings for Those Pursuing Adoption

As we usher in 2017, many of us are setting new goals for the forthcoming year. Having wrapped up the busy holidays, you may have decided that now is the time to buckle down and begin the adoption journey you’ve been contemplating. You may have already done your research and contacted agencies to find the right fit for your family, or you may just be getting ready to make that first phone call.

Potential clients often sheepishly tell me they are in the “very beginning stages of adoption and don’t know anything.” I always say this is an exciting time because it opens up a whole new chapter in their lives. I recognize that the beginning stages can be overwhelming at times, especially with the influx of adoption information available on the Internet. There are also a myriad of questions to muddle through: What type of adoption do you want: domestic, international, private? Do you want an infant or an older child? Which agency should you work with? Are you open to a child of a different racial or ethnic background? Does your family support your adoption decision? Does your family even know you want to adopt? The list goes on and on. In the midst of all these questions (and more), I believe there a few general guidelines that apply to most adoption situations. I have compiled this list below in hopes that it will provide some guidance and peace of mind as you embark on this most exciting adventure. And, if you do choose to proceed, Adoption Matters, Inc. warmly welcomes the opportunity to come along beside you. Please give us a call or send us an email and we will be sure to answer any questions you may have.

Things to Keep in Mind When Adopting:

  • Choose an agency whose mission you can get on board with. Some adoption agencies have very specific outreach and/or mission goals. It will be much easier to work with them and to trust the adoption process if you agree with these goals.
  • Find out if birth parents are receiving counseling. Believe me, it behooves you to be sure birth parents are receiving not only sound legal advice, but also adequate mental and emotional support. Birth mothers should also have access to regular prenatal care and resources exist to assist with this. Not every state requires counseling for birth parents and not every agency has their best interests in mind, so be sure to ask.
  • Have some compassion. Try to put yourself in birth parents’ shoes and recognize the incredibly difficult and heart wrenching decision these individuals are making. If you approach this adoption from a place of compassion and respect, things will go much better for you in the future as you attempt to navigate any type of relationship or interaction with the birth parents. It will also benefit you when your adopted child has questions and concerns about his/her adoption.
  • Take a good hard look at yourself, your partner, your extended family, and your community to decide what type of adoption you can best pursue. For example, can you raise a child of a racial or ethnic background other than your own in a community of friends and family that will be equally loving and supportive? Do you have the resources, both financial and emotional, to raise a child with special needs? Do you possess the willingness and patience to engage in an open adoption relationship with your child’s birth parents? The way you answer each of these questions should help you narrow down the type of adoption that is best for you. As an adoption counselor, I encourage families to stretch themselves and to conduct a lot of research so that they can be educated and make informed decisions instead of fearful ones. However, there are also instances where families say yes to a scenario they just aren’t prepared for, resulting in a lot of unnecessary stress and even sometimes disruption. Be open, but also evaluate your situation to make a strong adoption choice.