The teenage years are a crucial period during a child’s development. Adopting and parenting a foster child through those years adds a layer of complexity. Acknowledging your child’s past and implementing these helpful strategies will allow a smoother transition into your home.
Communicate Openly About Adoption
Talking openly about your child’s past and adoption options will build trust with them. While sharing some details of your child’s history may seem challenging, it is essential to be fully transparent about why you want to pursue adoption. Stay positive and validate any feelings that surface for your child to involve them in the decision. Help your child get to know who their birth parents are, even if there is no relationship established. These conversations can be difficult, so remain patient and ask for help from professionals who know what you are going through.
Encourage Your Young Adult’s Independence
During their teenage years, your child is transitioning to adulthood and will need to learn independence. This process is different for each child. Define clear boundaries for them while allowing more freedom as your child is ready. Past trauma may delay their comfort in being independent. It is helpful to communicate with your child and give them a voice in decisions and responsibilities. Remind them that you are open and available to talk when they need you.
Establish your values regarding risky behaviors while encouraging wise choices. Allow them to explore their identity while living within the value system that is important to your family. Continue to reassure them that they are a valued member of your family.
Support Your Foster Child’s Mental Health
One week in October is dedicated to mental health awareness, but it is critical all the time. Any teenager can experience intense emotions, and that can be amplified for adopted foster children. Common emotions for your child to experience are grief, confusion, and insecurity. Some signs that your child might need professional guidance include:
- Anger management issues
- Extreme mood swings
- Participation in risky behavior
If you notice any troubling indicators, find a specialist for your child to see. Many counselors understand both the foster system and adoption options. As a parent, you might also look into adoption services like support groups or counseling. You are not the first parent to raise an adopted foster child, so lean on others for guidance.
Discipline Adopted Teenagers Effectively
Teenagers want to push boundaries when it comes to rules. An adopted foster child will require a little extra care when disciplining because certain punishments may trigger past trauma. Be specific about the rules you are setting so that everyone is clear. Involve them in the process while being realistic about their maturity level. If you can model calm behavior during a frustrating time, it will be beneficial to your child. Reward positive behavior by pointing out things they are doing well.
Adopting a foster child to grow your family is a beautiful and challenging experience. Working to understand their past and openly communicating will allow you to transition them into your loving home. Heart of Adoptions Alliance can provide you with adoption services, resources, and support through this journey. Reach out to our experienced professionals at 866-432-7860 or [email protected].