Two teenage boys sit with their foster parents

4 Benefits to Fostering a Teenager

Teens are just like other kids in care: they long to be in a forever home.

Becoming a foster parent is both difficult and meaningful, especially when it comes to fostering a teenager.

Teens Need A Chance, Too

There is a large need for fostering teens; because at 18 years of age, thousands of children “age out” of the foster care system each year. Many of those children are likely to become homeless, unemployed, or even criminals.

CREATING A SAFE AND STABLE ENVIRONMENT

When a foster parent chooses to love and take care of them during their teenage years, these parents can create a stable environment and change the stigma. This is the time to show these teenagers what it feels to have a real home. Most teenagers in the foster care system don’t know what it is like to live in a loving, safe home.

They need routine care, even if it is as simple as getting help with their homework from a parent. The thought of a family dinner or a family vacation is unfamiliar to them, since they have never experienced community in that capacity. When you agree to foster a teenager, you are agreeing to give the experience of a loving family.

a foster mother sits with her foster teens

OFFERING GUIDANCE DURING THOSE PIVOTAL TIMES

Teenage years can be tough, so it is important to have loving and supportive parental figures to help guide them through changes and difficult decisions. Most teenagers in the foster care system are expected to navigate these trying times on their own, thereby making bad decisions that can make a lasting impact.

When developing an identity, it is important to have relationships with someone you can trust along the way. By fostering a teenager, you can help mold a child into a young adult ready to face the world with optimism. You can provide that space to allow them to grow while offering guidance every step of the way.

MENTORING DURING LIFE’S LESSONS

You can help teenagers learn life’s lessons. These are lessons they will not learn in school, and they may not even learn them in the foster care system. This is the time to show them skills for experiencing life as an adult one day. By sharing your stories and experiences, they will learn from you. Imagine the impact you can make by being that mentor and teacher.

By becoming the model family for your fostered teenager, you can help prepare them for early adulthood. These teenage years shape them into adults, so it is important to take steps to ensure they are set up for success. They will become familiar with stability. Hopefully, they will create that kind of environment for their own children in the future.

EXPERIENCING LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Teens make up less than ten percent of all adoptions. It is sad, but many of these teenagers never experience real love. They never heard, “I love you.” Teenagers age out of the system at 18 years old, so this is the last opportunity for them to experience what love feels like from a great parent.

Whether you are encouraging them to believe in themselves or helping them to dream big, it is important to give teenagers the environment, guidance, mentorship, and love they need to grow into happy adults. So, while it will not be easy, it will be worth it. The time it takes teenagers to trust and develop meaningful relationships will eventually make a lasting imprint on their hearts and lives.

Just ask foster parents, Travis and Maranda, who adopted a 17-year-old boy named Darien one year ago. While telling Darien’s story, Maranda said, “It just feels like he gets to live.”

Learn more about how to Become a Foster Parent at www.bair.org.

With 250,000 children entering foster care each year, our work is never done.

You can take the first step toward providing the loving home that every kid deserves.

Become a Foster parent