Both teenagers and their parents find adolescence a difficult time of life. It is at this time that a young person is desperately trying to establish their identity. Parents who contribute positively to identity and self-esteem, will help their teens reap the benefits later in life. Unlike many teens whose families support them into their twenties, teens in foster care very seldom receive any support as they transition into adulthood.
Because they are adolescents, it is difficult to place teenagers in foster care. The preference of most foster families is to have young children in their homes. While it’s understandable that young children need to be protected and cared for by foster parents, teenagers are desperate for someone to commit to them as well. The younger children are often adopted by their foster families after their biological parents’ parental rights have been terminated, and so become part of a permanent family who will provide them with a lifelong commitment. Regrettably teenagers usually do not get adopted and, unable to return home, they find themselves alone, lonely and rejected and with all the damaging emotions that accompany rejection.
Leaving foster care at age 18 puts the teen at great risk of dropping out of school, becoming pregnant, jobless, homeless or incarcerated. By age 24 it is estimated over 50% do not have employment and of the young women, more than 67% have children. Nearly 60% of the males have been found guilty of a crime with 27% ending up in jail. More than 25% of these ill-fated young adults will find themselves homeless.
While being a parent to foster teens can be challenging, it is not without rewards. If a teenager feels respected, he or she can become a good friend, joining in with sports, games, conversations and mutual interests with the foster family. Adolescents do not require as much supervision as younger children and are even able to take on some of the family responsibilities and tasks.
If you are looking for an opportunity to provide for a desperate need by being responsible for a neglected, abused teenager, requiring someone to commit to them right through to adulthood, then this could be a rich and rewarding challenge for you. Contact Kids First in Dallas and Fort Worth to see how you can take your next step.