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 have the maturity of a 40-year-old... Joking! A transition to a family should happen at my pace, once I feel secure. Adrien, age 14. View profile.
  • I want a family who sings along with me on my karaoke machine because I like performing. Alana, age 13. View profile.
  • To me, family means home. It means forever connected. Alysa, age 14. View profile.
  • I want people to know that it is my dream to help and serve others.
  • I’ve been through a lot; however, I would love an open and supportive family to be a part of. Azariah, age 16. View profile.
  • Family, to me, means the people around you who are there for you—people who make you feel loved and cared about. Blessin, age 16. View profile.
  • I am a big fan of cats and want to become a vet! I’m also active and like P.E. Charlie, age 15. View profile.
  • I love doing things in the community and helping others. I want to be a baker and softball player when I grow up. Coco, age 16. View profile.
  • I am very curious; I love to learn and discover things. Collin, age 14. View profile.
  • My true passion is for all things electronic; explaining strategy in video games brings me so much joy.
  • I want a family who will love me and respect me, and who I can go saltwater fishing with. David, age 16. View profile.
  • I’m looking for a family who’s loving, caring, and helpful, and I really look forward to being adopted. Domanic, age 16. View profile.
  • Family means that you can trust each other. If I have trust, I feel like that’s all I need. Elliston, age 17. View profile.
  • Family is important to me because, no matter what, they will always be there for me. Emmanuel, age 14. View profile.
  • I like to play sports, like swimming, soccer, floor hockey, and softball. I also enjoy music and watching anything Disney. Ethan, age 16. View profile.
  • I want a family who would love me for me. Hailey, age 15. View profile.
  • A family would mean that I have people to support me and help me as I navigate adulthood.
  • Family means everything! I want to be with somebody who can help and love me. Jah'miaah, age 16. View profile.
  • I'm helpful, nice, and playful. Johnathan, age 15. View profile.
  • I am athletic and good at basketball. I value respect, loyalty, and trust. Julian, age 18. 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 16. View profile.
  • I like animals. I am a leader, and I try to help others. I am also caring and loving.
  • I really just want a family… Lincoln, age 13. View profile.
  • Adoption would mean being together with my siblings in a family. Luis and Jose, ages 18 and 15. View profile.
  • I want people to know I like to dance, play football and basketball with my friends, and that I am funny. Marq, age 14. View profile.
  • When I think of family, I think of people who’ve got each other’s backs and love each other and care for each other. Marshall, age 13. View profile.
  • I’m looking for a family who will be there through the hard times. That family would mean a lot to me. Myah, age 15. View profile.
  • I want a family to show me how much they care and to always be there for me. Family is important. Rahjah, age 17. View profile.

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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