Are you considering fostering or adopting, but aren’t sure what ages would be best for you? While many people seem to prefer to raise babies and younger children, local teens are also waiting for loving homes. Although it’s common to think of teens as “troublemakers,” the truth is that teens can be loving, supportive members of your household.
I was in foster care as an infant and, once again, as a teen. After being chronically bullied, abused and abandoned, all I wanted was to feel safe. Being around adults who cared gave me an opportunity to heal my heart while I was planning my future. I honored the families I lived with and always tried to make life better for them. I never got into trouble and was on the honor roll. I wanted an opportunity to have a better life and serve others while I was in care.
It has been reported that at least half of youth who have aged out of foster care end up homeless or incarcerated. Studies have also shown that teen girls in foster care are 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant by the age of 19. With consistent guidance, patience, love and support, I was able to create a better future that did not involve me becoming a statistic, such as becoming a teen parent or indulging in self-destructive behaviors.
Due to receiving so much support from caring adults, I was able to obtain my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications, and was eventually able to help other teens in care by becoming an advocate and helping them find loving homes. I often encourage people who have a heart for youth to consider becoming a foster parent to a child or teenager in crisis.
As a foster parent to a teen, you can help a teen with resources, teach them life skills and help them locate long-term housing opportunities. You can also help them find employment and teach them skills they need to stay independent. If you are considering supporting a teen by becoming a foster parent, here are a few reasons that make them a great choice:
- You’ll Have More Free Time: Teens are usually much more independent than babies or younger children. They can help cook, wash their own clothes, help prepare meals and help with household chores. They can also catch the bus on their own to school, and they can dress themselves. You can also teach them how to be safe during the pandemic, and they may be able to follow through with your guidance more consistently because their brains are more developed, so they can learn and remember new habits more quickly.
- You’ll Learn New Skills: Having a teen around the house can help you boost your computer skills, social skills or even increase your IQ! When you help your teen with homework, you can learn valuable, up-to-date knowledge that can help you in your everyday life.
- Teens Can Add More Fun to Your Life: Teens love feeling like they are a part of a family. When they feel comfortable with you, they may enjoy participating in fun activities such as game night, movie night, bowling and other fun adventures.
- You Can Create a Lifelong Relationship: Many teens who age out of the system keep in touch with their foster parents. You can create a unique bond with them that lasts well into their adulthood. Since they are closer to adulthood than children are, they can put your teachings and the skills you taught them into practice a lot sooner. You may see the impact you’ve made on their lives and share their successes.
- You Can Make a Difference by Sharing Your Life Experiences: Teens can create an emotional bond with people they feel understand them. When you discuss some of your life experiences, especially those that they can relate to, they can learn from some of your past actions and make wiser choices. Sharing some of your story can truly help save a teen’s life.
- You Can Help a Teen Build a Positive Future: You can help a teen transition into a successful adult by teaching them life skills, helping them with their college endeavors and giving them advice about relationships, friendships and employment. Your influence in a teen’s life can help them realize their full potential and create a new, successful life.
- You Can Give a Teen the Experience of Love: Giving a teen love will help them be able to be loving to themselves and others, especially their families. When a teen knows what love is, they will create loving homes and be more impactful in their communities.
A former foster youth, Eve Powers obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and her Ph.D. in energy healing from Thomas Francis University. She is a certified holistic life coach, motivational writer and self-help author whose work has appeared in Foster Focus magazine, Heart & Soul magazine, BET Centric and Huffington Post. She also works at Trinity Youth Services, a Foster-to-Adopt Agency located in Los Angeles County. Her passion is helping teens in foster care thrive. To learn more, please call 310-291-3889, or send an email to epowers@TrinityYS.org.