So, hubs and I have always planned on adopting older children when it was time to start a family. We had thought we would start out with a sibling group of 3-4 kids that were atleast 4 years old, and probably 13 at the oldest. Now, we're rethinking this plan, and talking very seriously about starting out by adopting a teenage girl, raising her as an only child, and adopting a younger sibling group after she has left the house. We are planning to buy a house at the end of this year, and will most likely begin our classes and the homestudy process soon afterwards.
I feel like we're going into this fairly prepared, though I know that nothing ever fully prepares you. The big issue is that were both young- I'm 25, he is 34. We're in CA, which allows for us to adopt children up to ten years younger. Before you write us off completely- let me explain. DH and I have volunteered with teens for our whole relationship (celebrating 5 years of marriage in June) We've worked with a lot of teens in the system- both foster and justice. We've dealt with pregnancy scares, expulsion hearings, reporting so many issues to CPS that we were on a first name basis, kids with rage issues, arrests, near deaths from alcohol poisoning, we've been through it all. We've been cursed at, yelled at, insulted, had things thrown at us, DH has been spit on, all of the "pleasant" things. (We've also been invited to weddings, graduations, and sporting events, been there for birth announcements, and all the good things too)
DH was a manager for a level 10 boys teen facility for three years, dealing primarily with juvenile offenders (mostly drugs) and difficult to place foster kids. I spent a lot of time with him there and we have seen the ins and outs of ODD, ADHD, etc. on a daily basis. Currently, he works at a level 14 facility for SED children.
We're not naive- we know these kids have issues. We're both experienced in sifting through the BS, and I can honestly say that out of all the teens we've worked with, there was only one who surprised us with being worse off than we expected. (though we never would have considered him as an adoptive placement due to hx of meth use. pot, we can work with. meth, too much) I also know that any teen we bring home will most likely never call me mom or my husband dad, and that a lot of teens in the system aren't looking for parents in the traditional sense. We're okay with that. The way we see it, we have the space, we have the resources, a lot of patience, and some semblance of experience. We understand boundaries, we're consistent in our application and enforcement of expectations, rules, and consequences. We're ready to have doors slammed, and to have some really rough times. We know that our daughter may not ever consider us her parents. But, we would love to be able to offer a safe home with unconditional love, and a place to transition to adulthood. We are blessed with a strong circle of family and friends, all of whom are willing to accept our children, adopted or not, just as if they were born to us. DH has two siblings that are of no legal or blood relation to him, I have one. We both come from "family is what you make of it" families that aren't limited to blood relationships. DH was adopted at 18 by his stepfather. We know that all of these people will be here for us when times are tough, and will cheer with us when times are good.
So tell me, are we nuts? I know that we will stick out as sore thumbs at PTA meetings, and that the average person will assume my duaghter is my younger sister, cousin, etc. I just can't get past the feeling that it just feels right and natural to add to our family in this manner. Any experience or insight people can share? Resources? It seems like information on adopting teenagers is few and far between. Thanks in advance! I have already learned so much from my year+ lurking around here :)
no, i dont think you're nuts.
My DH and I are in the same boat. I was a houseparent at a children's home for 3yrs, and though i know it's not the same as 24/7 parenting, I VERY MUCH think this will help prepare me for htis world we're heading into.
I think ya'll sound like a GREAT couple to adopt. I love that your families are supportive and you have a strong network of support too...
DH and I were 25 when our boys came home. I am now 27 and my sons are 13 (14 this month!) and 15 (16 in June). We do often get people, say at doctors offices etc saying "So you are....his sister?". I just say "Nope, I'm Mom" and leave it at that. People who see us often, like the school, get used to it. I hear the gossip that goes round but ignore it - some people figure it out, others think I had them REALLY young, others yet manage to come up with some really amusing stories to explain it. I let them talk - I don't think it is any of their business at all how I became their Mom, if my kids choose to share, that's fine, but I don't share on their behalf.
You may be surprised the number of teens that will call you 'Mom' - often just to blend it with their peers and not have to explain why they call you something else. And then it becomes a kids waited a year to call me Mom and started the day we got an adoption date. It meant a lot to them - they really wanted someone to call Mom.
There are advantages to being young and parenting teens - I am young enough to remember the shenanigans I got up to and thwart a fair few of their adventures before they really get started. I also remember how desperate I was to be cool, to have the right clothes etc.
The boys often comment that they thought it would be cooler. They are thoroughly disappointed that I am not the cool parent they thought I would be - I am just as strict, and sometimes stricter, then their friends parents.
I am really glad we adopted teens. They were deemed "hard to place" and there were considerations of maybe splitting them up or sending them to a group home and these two SO desperately wanted a Mom and a Dad and a 'normal' life.
It is hard. The bonding period was hard, and intense. They regressed dramatically - wanted to read Goodnight Moon every night before bed, went through a phase of climbing in my lap for hugs (that only ended when I got pregnant last year and my lap became unavailable), calling us Mommy and Daddy - it was exhausting for the first 6 months - they wanted all of us all the time - but it got less all consuming. They are much like any other teen now - complete with door slamming and screaming "I hate you" at us.
Feel free to PM me - that was kind of a rambly response but I did want to let you know, it can be done, you are not crazy (or if you are I am too and seem to get along just fine). If you do it, do be warned that for the rest of your life, anyone who finds out will loudly declare you 'a saint'. Which gets really annoying. Especially when I am not having a good Mom day and have yelled at my kids for something stupid (like leaving things laying around) and am feeling crappy and then have to smile at someone who wants to call me a saint...
trixie, that was VERY encouraging to hear!!! THANKS. I'll have to show this to my husband, I think he can use the encouragment too. :D