By Laura Troup
Fostering teenagers is one of the most misunderstood areas of foster parenting. While fostering or adopting a teenager may not be right for everyone, there are many great reasons to open your home to teens.
Teens need parenting just as much as younger children. They need someone to help them navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of middle and high school, teach them to drive and provide direction regarding life skills, such as maintaining positive relationships and budgeting. They need guidance as they decide what type of career to pursue, and help selecting a college, technical school or job. Teens need a parent to cheer on their successes and help them learn from their mistakes. Fostering a teen gives a person an opportunity to be a mentor and a positive role model.
Having a parent there in life’s special moments is wonderful, but parents are also important during the more "routine" days of our lives. Having a mom or dad to call for advice or encouragement, or just to say "hi," is something most of us take for granted. Yet, many teenagers age out of foster care without this special relationship.
While all children need a forever family, teenagers are much less likely to be adopted than younger children. As a result, teens age out of foster care every day. 519 children aged out of foster care in Tennessee in 2015. Many who age out become homeless or incarcerated, or have problems with drugs or alcohol. Young adults with supportive families experience better outcomes.
Older children and teens have more developed reasoning abilities and can be positively influenced. If your goal is to make a difference in the life of a child, fostering or adopting a teenager just might be the option for you.
Empty nesters are the most ideal demographic for fostering or adopting teens, but if you aren’t there yet, don’t count yourself out. Teens just need a committed adult. If you’d like to know more about fostering a teen with AGAPE, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.