Adoption Myth-Busting: The Realities And Rewards Of Adopting Teenagers

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Adoption can be a profound and life-altering journey that can take many forms, each with unique challenges and rewards. One area met with misconceptions is adopting teenagers, which results in an unfortunate loss to those needing support. Debunking common adoption myths will shed light on the rewards of embracing this misunderstood aspect of adoption.

Common Teenage Adoption Myths

The misconceptions of adopting teens often discourages prospective parents from considering this journey. Teenagers end up without adoptive families and ultimately miss out on that much-needed familial connection. Many teens end up aging out of foster care before finding that belonging.

Myth #1: Teenagers Are Harder To Bond With

A common belief exists that forming a strong bond with a teenager is more challenging than with a younger child. However, this myth overlooks the incredible capacity for connection that exists between adoptive parents and teenagers.

The Truth

Teenagers, like children of any age, yearn for a sense of belonging and security. While it may take time and patience to build trust, forming deep and meaningful connections is possible and transformative. Open communication, shared interests, and a commitment to understanding contribute to developing strong bonds between adoptive parents and teenagers.

Myth #2: Teens Come With Too Much Baggage

The misconception that teens come with insurmountable emotional baggage is a significant deterrent for prospective adoptive parents. In reality, every individual, regardless of age, brings a unique set of experiences to the adoption journey. Adoption trauma can occur regardless of age but will present itself differently in teenagers compared to younger children.

The Truth

Some teenagers may have faced challenges in the past. However, adopting parents can play a vital role in providing the support and stability needed for emotional healing.

Teens are resilient, and understanding that they have the potential for growth helps dispel the myth that adopting a teenager means taking on an overwhelming emotional burden. Adoptive parents can foster a nurturing environment that contributes to the emotional well-being and positive development of their adoptees.

Some teens may also have biological parents or birth family they wish to maintain a relationship with. This can be a deterrent for potential adoptive parents looking to add a new member to their family. Instead, understand that having support from multiple adults can be impactful to their growth.

Myth #3: It’s Too Late To Make A Positive Impact

A prevailing belief is that adopting a teenager is too late to make a positive impact on their lives. This myth undermines the potential for growth, change, and a brighter future that comes with the right support and guidance. 

The Truth

Everyone is capable of change at any age, and that’s certainly true for teenagers as well. Adoptive parents can make a lasting and positive impact on a teen’s life, regardless of when the adoption occurs.

The teen years account for a small aspect of life. An adoptive parent coming in at the opportune time to help shape a teen’s next steps could be exactly what inspires them to become who they’re meant to be.

Providing stability, love, and guidance, adoptive families can set teens on a path toward personal and academic success. What these teenagers are often lacking is support and guidance, and once they have that, they’re more likely to spark change.

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a teenage girl and her adoptive mother play chess at a table
Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska (via Pexels)

Mutual Rewards of Teenage Adoption

While there are incredible benefits for teenagers once becoming adopted, it doesn’t end there. Everyone involved in the adoption can benefit from the experience, which can further strengthen the process.

Benefits for Adopted Parents

Adopting a teenager provides adoptive parents with a profound sense of emotional fulfillment and personal growth. The challenges and joys of navigating the teenage years alongside their adoptee contribute to the development of resilience, patience, and a deeper understanding of family dynamics. The emotional bond formed during this period often becomes a source of lasting satisfaction.

Adoptive parents play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their adopted teenagers, whether it’s assisting with educational choices, career planning, or providing emotional support during adolescence. The joy that comes from helping them navigate through crucial life stages, make informed decisions, and witness their growth is a unique reward of teenage adoption.

Benefits for Adopted Teenagers

Teenagers greatly benefit from the opportunity to build strong, lasting connections with their adoptive families. During their transition to adulthood, the relationships formed in their teenage years provide support, understanding, and stability. 

Teenagers who are never adopted often lack the privilege of celebrating their milestones and achievements. With an adopted family, there’s a shared sense of accomplishment that enhances the bond. Whether it’s excelling academically, pursuing passions, or overcoming personal challenges, this support contributes to the positive development and self-esteem of the adopted child.

For teenagers, the need for support is even greater as they prepare to embark on adulthood. It’s worth considering the benefits of adopting teenagers as the experience can be transformative and incredibly rewarding for everyone.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Kate Fann. Have a story of love, kindness, or healing to share? Visit our submissions portal to submit today.

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