Teens need families

Thousands of teens in foster care are looking for the love, support, and encouragement that families provide throughout their lives—not just until they turn 18

  • I want a family who loves to travel and go on adventures, making memories that we can treasure for a lifetime. Ariana, age 15. View profile.
  • I want an active and fun family who knows I like cars, video games, and sports. Blake, age 16. View profile
  • Adoption would mean having a home to live in, and I would really like a laid-back family. Boe, age 16. View profile.
  • I want to have a mom and a dad who will support me while I play sports and let me have a pet. Bryon, age 15. View profile.
  • Before I was adopted, I just wanted to have a family like other kids had. Caelum, age 14. Recently adopted.
  • I want my future family to know that I am very helpful and goofy and sweet! Camille, age 15. View profile.
  • Adoption means not forgetting my old family but getting a chance with a new family. Candra, age 13. View profile.
  • I want a family who will love me and respect me and who I can go saltwater fishing with. David, age 15. View profile
  • Adoption would mean having a family who will be there for me forever. Delani, age 16. View profile.
  • I want a family who can give me unconditional love, stability, and acceptance. I also want a family I can have fun with. Delilah, age 15. View profile.
  • I want a family to know that I am funny and smart. I like being with animals, and my favorite holiday is Christmas. James, age 15. View profile.
  • I want people to know that, deep down, teens just want someone to love them. Jason, age 15. Adoption pending.
  • I would like a family who is active and likes to do fun things—like going to Six Flags! J'Mere, age 18. View profile.
  • I want a family who knows I’m funny, helpful, and energetic. Joann, age 16.
  • Adoption would mean being together with our siblings in a forever family. Jose, Luis, ages 14, 17. View profile.
  • I want a family to know that I am energetic, I love sports, and I love to travel. I also love to talk. Kai’Dynce “DeeKae,” age 16. View profile.
  • I’m hoping for a family I can open up to and talk to when needed. Kaleb, age 15. View profile.
  • I hope to have an amazing family who is kind. I also want a family who enjoys traveling and doing fun things. Katedra, age 15. View profile.
  • I am hoping to have a caring family who accepts me for who I am. Kenzie, age 15. View profile.
  • I want a family to know I’m a fun kid! I want to learn things like how to cook, especially sweet potatoes! Leonard(Lennie), age 17. View profile
  • I want a family to know that I am sweet, caring, and affectionate. Madeline, age 17. View profile.
  • I want a family who is loving and caring and will take me places. Mika, age 15. View profile.
  • I want to have a nice, loving family that cares about me. Preston, age 15. View profile.
  • I want a family who is loving and caring. Salina, age 16. View profile.
  • I am talkative and funny, and I want to be an engineer. I also want a mom and dad who love me. Sebastian, age 14. View profile.
  • Being placed in an adoptive family has changed my life a lot and has given me the support I need to keep striving. Shiloh, age 15. Adoption pending.
  • If I get adopted, it would be great because I’ve always wanted a family who cares about me! Taivion, age 15. View profile.
  • Adoption has been a great gift. It means trusting and loving each other. This is the family we feel safe with. Trinitee, Emilee, Kaylee, ages 14, 13, 11. Adoption pending.
 

This year, more than 20,000 young people will leave foster care without a family. Many of them will not have anyone they can call for help, for advice, for a ride when their car breaks down.

It’s disturbing, but probably not surprising, that outcomes for youth who age out of foster care are often poor. Studies show that they are at increased risk for homelessness, young parenthood, low educational attainment, high unemployment rates, and other adverse adult outcomes.

The good news is that it only takes one person to improve these odds for a young person. If you think that person might be you, read on!

Why should I adopt a teen? Are they really looking for a family?

As we all know, you never outgrow the need for a family. Everyone needs a sense of belonging.

Through adoption, older children are connected to a family that can provide a sense of stability, lasting connections, and guidance with important life tasks—including enrolling in higher education, finding stable housing, securing employment, and establishing healthy relationships.

Do teens have a say in their adoption? How do I know if a teen wants to be adopted?

Yes! Almost every state has a requirement that youth of a certain age provide consent to be adopted. The age varies by state. Fourteen is the most common consent age, but many states require youth as young as ten to consent to adoption. Many parents have told us that adopting a teen has the added reward of knowing that not only did you choose them to be their child, they chose you to be their parents.

We really want to watch a child grow up and share important milestones with them—like their first steps.

You may not be there when they lose their first tooth or take the training wheels off their bike for the first time, but there are plenty of firsts to experience with a teen—first date, learning to drive, first job interview.

And, while teens have a lot to learn from you, they’ll teach you a lot too.

 

Image from Atlantic magazine ad
Parents and teens talk about the rewards of adoption and what they’ve learned in this Atlantic magazine feature.

What kind of support will our family get after adopting a teen?

A lot!

Many states and organizations provide financial assistance to children who are in foster care or who were adopted. Youth who were adopted from the foster care system when they are 16 or older may be able to access Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) of up to $5,000 per year. Those who were adopted from foster care when they are 13 or older are more likely to qualify for federal financial student aid because they don’t have to count family income when applying.

When it comes to medical and mental health benefits, qualifying families may receive federally funded monthly maintenance payments, medical assistance, and other support, often until a child turns 18 or 21, depending on the state where they live.

Learn more about educational assistance and medical and mental health benefits at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

I’m not ready to commit. Are there other ways to help?

Yes! Spending time with a teen in your community—as a mentor, Big Brother or Big Sister, CASA volunteer, or tutor at your local library or community center—is not only a great way to help a teen, it could help you decide whether fostering or adopting an older child is right for you.

There are many ways you can help, and at least one child who will be glad you did.

Things to do next:

 

Sources of foster care statistics:

 


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