2017 National Adoption Month’s Theme: “Teens Need Families, No Matter What”

You can be the difference between a teenager aging out of foster care without roots or one that enters into adulthood with wings.

Caroline Bailey November 06, 2017
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The theme for this year’s National Adoption Month is “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.”

When I first heard about this, I felt pleased but also burdened.  It saddens me that there is a belief out there that teenagers don’t want to be adopted, don’t need to be adopted, or are not fit for adoption. Of all of the damaging misunderstandings regarding children in foster care who need adoption, the thoughts about teenagers carry a heavy weight.

Teens need families, no matter what. It does not matter what their histories are or if they are thirteen or eighteen. It does not matter if they have lived in multiple foster homes or have barely been able to make it in more structured settings. It does not matter if they have lived on the streets of the inner city or the dirt roads of the country. What is vital to their success is the sense of being wanted, needed, and belonging.

In most states, teenagers have the right to choose whether or not to be adopted. In my professional experience with working with older youth in the system, I can count on one hand (maybe) the number of teenagers who stated they did not want to be adopted. Even the ones who were unsure about adoption were keenly aware of the need for belonging in a family. The sad truth is that their adoption profiles were sent out multiple times without a single response because of their ages.

Teenagers need a family to come home to.  They need a home where they feel secure. They need to know that they are loved without condition despite their flaws or histories. They deserve the opportunities that families can give – opportunities for education, travel, and special interests. They need to hear a loving voice on the other line when their hearts get broken. They need parents who will teach them to drive, manage bank accounts, fill out job or college applications, and celebrate each birthday. More than this, they yearn to know their lives mean something and are filled with purpose.

If you have considered adopting an older youth, do not wait. Ask questions and learn as much as you can. Get started on the process. There are many wonderful teenagers waiting for families. You can be the difference between a teenager aging out of foster care without roots or one that enters into adulthood with wings.

Teens need families, no matter what. Why? Because they matter and because families matter.

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Caroline Bailey

Caroline is a mother of three children through adoption and a strong advocate for the needs of children and families involved in the child welfare system in the United States. At the age of eleven (1983), she underwent an emergency hysterectomy in order to save her life. Caroline is the youngest person to have a hysterectomy. Her life has been profoundly affected by infertility. In 2006, Caroline and her husband, Bruce, became licensed foster parents. They were blessed to adopt two of their children through foster care in 2008 and 2010. Their youngest child is a relative of Caroline, and they celebrated his adoption in 2013. Caroline works for a Christian child welfare agency in Missouri. She has been a guest speaker at churches and conferences regarding adoption and is currently working on a memoir about the impact of illness, faith, foster care, and adoption in her life. Caroline is also an avid cyclist and enjoys cheering her children on in their various sporting activities. She shares her experience about foster care, adoption, barrenness, parenting, and faith on her blog. She would love to hear from you! Contact her at barrentoblessed@gmail.com.

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