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10 Reasons to Foster a Teenager in Foster Care

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Peeples is a long-term child abuse survivor who ended up in foster care. Her goal is to inform others about foster care and social issues.

The pros and cons of fostering a teenager.

The pros and cons of fostering a teenager.

I am a long-term child abuse survivor who ended up in foster care. Now I'm all grown up with my own family and I've had plenty of time to think and reflect on the experience. My goal is to inform others about foster care and other social issues.

10 Reasons to Be a Foster Parent to a Teen

So here are ten great reasons to foster a teen.

1. You may become the only family they have.

Can you imagine aging out of the foster system completely alone? Without family to guide you into early adulthood (or, if you do have relatives, ones that can't or don't care about your well-being)? Wouldn't it be awesome to watch a teen. . .

  • grow into adulthood,
  • graduate from high school,
  • go off to college,
  • get a job and build a career,
  • get married or have a child,

. . . all while teaching them and guiding them to be the best possible adults they can be? Be that family! Be that person to help them through life.

2. You may be able to make that hard time a little easier.

Being in foster care is not fun. It's hard and mentally exhausting not knowing how long a placement will last, how long before you'll get to go home (if ever), and if a foster parent will treat you like a human being.

Be the home that they remember not because it was stressful or hard, but because it was awesome. . . or at least a home that made their hard time just a bit easier.

3. You may be able to show them what a good, supportive home might look like.

Most children in foster care have not experienced a great home life. The average foster child is not used to cooking with mom, eating at a dinner table, having a scheduled time to do homework, or even basics like having caring adults around. So you can give them a glimpse of what a comfortable, supportive home is supposed to look like.

4. You may be able to teach them not to run away when they get scared.

Many foster children are "runners," and I don't mean track! It's easier to run before things get too bad than it is to be hurt or rejected by yet another foster home or situation.

By providing a comfortable, supportive situation, you can help them see that they might not have to run. Being a foster parent to a teen gives you a chance to redirect that fear into something more productive. You can help them learn new coping mechanisms so that when they grow up, they won't continue making the mistake of running every time they are afraid of being hurt or scared.

5. You may be able to show them what is important in life.

You know, like. . .

  • building relationships,
  • understanding politics,
  • figuring out a career, getting an education, and all those other important things we all have to sort out.

Most foster teens have no idea about any of this because the system does not prepare them for adulthood.

6. You can teach them about trust.

Imagine being a teenager. Now imagine your parents have failed you. The main people you are supposed to be able to trust in life have proven untrustworthy, and the only way you can keep from being hurt again is to stop trusting.

Give them a chance to trust someone before they get to a point of no return.

7. You may be able to help them get counseling and heal.

Foster children are required to see a counselor. For many foster children, the counselor changes every time the foster home does. So what's the point in listening to them?

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When I was a foster teen, I didn't understand why I should listen to people who likely had no idea what it was like to go through what I did. Now that I am an adult, I understand the value of therapy and counseling, but 32 placements and close to 30 counselors got ignored because as a teenager being shuttled from house to house, I didn't see the value in listening to their advice.

But as a foster parent, you have the opportunity to help the teenager find the best help, follow through with their counselor, and get the help they need. This is your opportunity to help them learn why they should spend some time listening!

8. You can help them not feel so alone.

You can be the one clapping for them when they graduate, walking them down the aisle, or helping them through a divorce. These joys are greater when they are shared, and bad times are more devastating when there's no one to share the pain.

No one should have to go through these things without someone. Be that someone!

9. You may (finally!) be their last stop in foster care.

It's such a cruel comparison, but I once heard teen foster children compared to senior dogs in the shelter. Those are the ones most don't want, but if you take them in and keep them they age out of the system, they will forever be grateful.

While the comparison is a bit cruel, it's true. Being the last stop can be the saving grace. You can be the memorable last stop, making all the other stops before it worthwhile.

10. You can teach them about love.

Because when it comes down to it, isn't that all that matters? Don't all people deserve to feel loved no matter what?

The Statistics

Here are some statistics to remind you why fostering a teen is a great idea.

  1. Only 6% of aged-out foster children graduate from college.
  2. 40% of aged-out foster children end up homeless.
  3. 25% of aged-out foster children do not even have a high school diploma or GED.
  4. Compared to non-fostered kids, 30% fewer foster children held jobs by age 24.
  5. 60% of male aged-out foster children are convicted of a crime before age 24.

Fostered Teenager: The Experience, in Retrospect

As a foster child, I didn't get any of the things on this list. So I married the first person who made me feel like I had a family. I didn't have someone to walk me down the aisle. No one was there for me at the birth of my first child, and when the inevitable happened, no one was there for me in the divorce.

Foster a teen! When you do, don’t expect them to be perfect. Don’t expect them to call you "mom" and "dad." Don’t expect them to listen to every word you say. Expect them to have imperfections. Do your part to help them become the best adult they can be!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Peeples

Comments

Peeples (author) from South Carolina on January 22, 2016:

Thank you Sharon for adopting her. You gave her the gift of a home and she gave you the gift of grand babies. How awesome!

Sharon on January 22, 2016:

The best thing we ever did was adopt our Daughter when she was 13! Yes, we went through some tough times but I would do it all over again! She is now 27, we are closer than ever, and she has given us 3 beautiful Grandchildren. I can't imagine my life without all of them

Martha on September 18, 2015:

You have given me a lot to think about. I would like to make a difference in a teenager's life.

Heather from Ohio on January 12, 2013:

Very good points on the reasons to foster teens. I believe your doing an excellent job bringing more awareness to the truth about our foster care system. Great writing also, thank you so much for having the courage to stand up and share your story's and inspire countless people out here, including me.

H Lax on November 28, 2012:

This article is very useful and hopefully will inspire people to become foster parents. I have always wanted to become a foster parent myself however I have been struggling to support my son and myself for a long time now. Unfortunately the few times when I was on my way to becoming financially secure something happened like one time the company I worked for closed its doors and another time I had to move away from my good paying job and finding a job that actually pays enough to get by is difficult and impossible in many cases. Anyhow, I still hope to become a foster parent someday.

Tijani Achamlal from Morocco on November 26, 2012:

I'm sorry you went through all that. Sounds very scary, unpredictable, lonely, screwed up childhood. I hope your doing better and that you surround yourself with positive people that care about you.

hugs hugs hugs

xoxoxoxoxoxox

Joseph De Cross from New York on November 26, 2012:

Welcome back peeples. Just added your story to our Posts. Your own experience make this hub valuable, and we hope you write quality hubs like this one. Powerful to say the least. You are truly a survivor; how many were left behind? You know better than us! Thanks!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on November 26, 2012:

There is no one better equipped to write this awareness raising piece than you.

This is a convincing and poignant plea. Thank you for sharing your experiences that show your inner strength.

Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Madeleine Salin from Finland on November 26, 2012:

This is very personal and touching. Thanks for sharing your story. You are such a strong woman.

Peeples (author) from South Carolina on November 26, 2012:

Thank you btrbell. My life is much better now. You are right, people forget what their children have done.

Peeples (author) from South Carolina on November 26, 2012:

Thanks for sharing Ms. Brooks, I'm looking forward to checking out your hub.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on November 26, 2012:

What a beautiful, heartfelt article. I would like to add another thought to the mix.People are so worried about the type of teen they will take into their homes but have they looked at their own children? Probably not so perfect. I wish that I were in a position to do this. I would love to take in teens. Keep spreading the word, it's important. My heart breaks for you that you had such a difficult beginning to your life. My heart breaks that you didn't have omeone to walk you down the aisle or be there to answer your questions or just to love you. Everyone deserves to be loved. I hope and pray that your life is better now.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on November 26, 2012:

I am so glad you posted this on Facebook in the HOW series.. I am crying,. it is so sad.. Of course I am sharing your story.. I am linking it to mine HOW to adopt a family , children...

this is an amazing write everyone needs to be aware and not turn a blind eye. God Bless you for writing this

So good to read this

Debbie

Christine Mulberry on August 21, 2011:

The whole system is so frustratingly bad. Teenagers can be tough and living with one you don't know all that well must be particularly difficult. They really need to offer training and ongoing support for families that take in teens. Maybe more families would step forward to take it on. Even at 20 I can't imagine not having supportive parents to turn to as needed.

Kevin Harper from Boise, Idaho on March 21, 2011:

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Some friends of ours are trying to get the word out about the need for foster and adoptive families willing to consider teens, particularly aged out teens. Please check it out, they would love to hear from you!

http://www.agedoutteens.com

Peeples (author) from South Carolina on January 15, 2011:

You tell them! Sometimes the hardest things to figure out are the easiest things that can be done. Make sure a child knows that you respect their feelings for their parents. Make sure they know that you NEVER plan on being a replacment for their parents (even if you know they may never go back home). And show unconditional love! The rest you have to hope the child will figure out. I must say personally the worst thing a foster parent could do for me was encourage me to call them mom and dad. It told me that they lacked the caring and respect that is needed to understand my situation. Those who forced the least love earned the most! Thank you for taking part in a foster child's life!

Tamesha on January 14, 2011:

I'm 27 years old, my husband is 43, and we have two foster children. One is 13 and the other is 8; we do our best to make life go well for them and at times, we can see that it gets hard for them but it gets hard for us to. All we try to do is be there for them, but some times they want nothing to do with us though we all live in the same house. Now I know some times I feel the same with my family, but when it comes to fostering you have no clue what that child may be thinking aboutand that's the problem, some kids do crazy thing weather it be foster or not. I'm not their mother but I know they would love me to be, it's just when they see their parents they start to feel guilty that they look at my husband and my self as parents; when they have parents they see every week. My question is, how do you show foster children that it's ok to have other people who are not their parents, love them as they do?

Dave Sibole from Leesburg, Oh on June 03, 2010:

Your Hubs are really touching, keep them coming.

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