Have you seen the commercials, “You Don’t Have to be Perfect to be a Perfect Parent” ? If not, here is one of them. The humor involved in making these videos shows what is true. You do not have to be perfect to be a parent, and let’s be honest, there are no perfect parents out there.
Thousands of older youth are in foster care are in need of adoption. While the statistics are heart-wrenching, they can also be motivating when considering fostering and adopting an older child from foster care.
Here are six reasons why YOU just might be a perfect parent for an older child.
1) You are empty-nesters. At first, having the kids gone and off into adulthood is exciting and a new-found source of freedom, right? After a while though, you find that you miss parenting, and teaching life skills. You can provide an older child with a stable home and in return, you will gain a great deal of insight and fortitude.
2) You are over “the baby thing.” Babies are so sweet and snuggly, but you also like your sleep, ability to just get up and go when you please, and have no desire to change another diaper. Fostering an older youth may include a few sleepless nights (because they are teenagers), but they also are more independent! Did I mention no diaper changes?
3) You are a spontaneous person who likes adventures. The best example of this is of a foster dad of teenage boys who decided to take a road trip in the middle of the night to drive to a town located three hours away from his home just to get “famous” hamburgers. He loaded up his car with the teens, headed out to get burgers, then drove home. This happened, folks, and what awesome memories for all involved. If you are spontaneous, love adventures, and can pull a few late nights, you might just be a perfect fit for fostering older youth.
4) You recognize that your own life experiences can benefit older youth in the system. Were you a bit on the wild side as a teenager? Does nothing shock you anymore? Do you have a desire to help make the world a better place? If so, fostering older youth might just be the incredible way you can affect change by nurturing, teaching, and helping older kids in the system.
5) You are concerned about the state of older youth who are aging out of foster care. The statistics are alarming when it comes to how many older youth age out of the system without a stable source of support. Their risk of homelessness, human trafficking, and serving time in jail is greater for kids who age out without support, than youth who have a place to call home. If you have a heart for older youth, please consider becoming a foster parent.
6) You understand that “teenagers will be teenagers.” In other words, you know that the teenage years are so important to forming self-identity and future goals. If you have flexible expectations, a good sense of humor, and appreciate self-expression, then you might just be the right person to be a foster parent to older youth.
There is always a need for foster families for older kids in the US foster care system. These teens need loving, stable, and determined adults to step up and take them in. The families that foster older youth understand the importance of the task at hand. They enjoy (most days) the ability to shape someone’s future, and they know that time is of the essence.
You do not have to be perfect to be a foster parent to older youth, but my friend, you might just be perfect to parent them.