Most of the children who are in foster care have come from extremely difficult circumstances where one or both parents were abusive, mentally unstable, addicted to drugs and alcohol, unemployed, or dead. Having lived through torture, poverty, and misery all their lives living in the foster care homes would often be their first experience of a real home.
It’s really important that the foster parents are welcoming and supportive enough to get these kids back on their feet to lead normal lives. When it comes to fostering children most of the parents prefer to take in smaller children as it’s easier to bring them up than taking an older child or teenagers.
Fostering Adolescent Children
Fostering an adolescent or a teenager could be different and difficult compared to giving foster care to a younger child. The challenges, however, are related to adolescent developmental issues.
The transition to adulthood is not an easy phase for young adults and teenagers. It would be even difficult if they don’t have anyone to guide them through this phase. They require role models, teachers, and opportunities to grow and become productive individuals.
Teenagers who are mothers or pregnant are also placed in foster care when there is a need. Even though this situation could be challenging this could also be the most rewarding role you’ve ever taken. This post from Perpetual Fostering explains why some of the children who are in the most need for a foster care placements are teenage mothers or teenagers who are about to give birth.
What are some of the important things to consider while adopting a teenager for foster care?
Be Prepared Personally
Fostering teenagers requires the parent to be strong both mentally and emotionally. You need to be optimistic and patient enough to deal with each and every challenge and guide them in the right direction. If you are prepared and strong enough, the situation could drain you of your energy. Keep in mind that these children have known trauma and misery most part of their lives and it could be a while before they choose to trust you.
A Heart Of Compassion
Don’t be prejudiced. You need to put yourself in the child’s position and have a heart of compassion. Remember the problem is that they’ve never had any chance of a good upbringing which is the reason for their problematic behavior. The only way to get them going in the right direction is through unconditional love and by showing them compassion.
Make sure you communicate openly from the beginning itself. This is essential to build a strong and stable relationship. You could ask them about anything that could get you a response from them like how their day in school was, an opinion regarding a new outfit that you’ve recently bought, or their favorite cake or dessert so that you could make or buy it for them.
Be A Good Listener
Most of the young adults and teenagers have several views about different things and you being their foster parent they could express those views and thoughts to you. Make sure you listen to them carefully even what they say makes no sense. You could gently correct them in case what they’ve said is wrong and help them understand the right thing pointing out from where you got the information.
Give Them Responsibilities
Depending on their age teenagers can be given responsibilities. Encouraging young adults to be self-reliant will help them develop skills that are necessary to make the right decisions. Responsibilities and tasks should be assigned taking into consideration their level of maturity. Remember each child is different and the skills they’ve acquired over the years could also vary.
Privacy Needs To Be Respected
Teenagers and young adults’ value their privacy so make sure you respect it. Don’t go around spying on the child, listening to their conversation with friends, reading their text messages or emails unless there is a threat to your child’s safety. Make sure you guide these children in the right direction giving them praise whenever it is necessary and doesn’t criticize them, as teenagers tend to be really sensitive.
Once you’ve welcomed a teenager to your home it might take awhile before things start feeling normal again. Just like any other teenager who lives in normal circumstances, looking after a teenager in a foster home comes with certain challenges. However, the benefits and insight that both the children and parent gain through this process often outweighs all the difficulties and could last for a lifetime.