Adoption can be one of the most beautiful experiences that a child and parent can have. Adopting a child from the newborn or toddler stage is much different from adopting a teenager. Teenagers go through emotional ups and downs as they start to mature. They have new experiences while learning some adult life skills so when you mix in the adoption process things can get a little complex.
Here are some tips that may help:
The best thing you can do when adopting any child is to learn to love them unconditionally. There is no magic switch to unconditional love and it takes time. But if you approach the experience with an open loving heart then the teen may pick up on your genuine energy.
You will need patience as the two of you get to know each others personalities and as you experience ups and downs with your new child. It is probably best to figure out how you will handle stressful moments before hand. Counting to ten, leaving the room for a few moments, or even taking a few deep breaths can help during times of frustration.
Your outlook and attitude are a big factor in the adoption process. If you have a positive mindset then your teen will pick up on that. One suggestion is putting up positive quotes on the fridge and making sure that your house looks and feels like a loving environment. You may also want to take a picture at the adoption agency and frame it a few days later so that your teen starts to feel a little like a part of the family.
Check out these tips from Childwelfare.gov
1. Expose your teenager to healthy physical, social, and cultural activities. Set reasonable limits on isolated or passive activities, including time in front of a screen or on a digital device.
2. Help youth take positive risks. Encourage youth to explore interests and try new things—for example, playing an instrument, trying out for a sports team, or visiting new places.
3. Engage and guide teenagers in planning and decision-making. Allow youth to make decisions, set priorities, manage tasks, and have some control over their lives. Guide them in problem solving and help them understand the consequences of their decisions and actions.
4. If you notice developmental delays or your child struggles in school, ask your school or doctor for a professional assessment. If an assessment reveals that your child has a disability, talk with school personnel about developing an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that will ensure services to address your child’s needs. This is important for the child to feel successful and helps prevent difficult behavior at school. Even teens who do not qualify for special educational services can be assisted by simple changes in the classroom.
5. Seek professional support, if needed. A traumainformed therapist can help with the healing process. (See the section on Seeking Help for Behavioral and Mental Health Concerns.)