Friday, January 25, 2013

Foster Parent Friday: Helping Your Foster/Adopt Child Feel They Belong (Guest Post)

When we were going through our licensing classes we were able to watch from the sidelines as an adoptive family faced a very scary situation at least in part due to un-addressed issues related to the adopted child's history.  Our class was co-taught by a foster parent and a social worker.  All along the foster parent had been using the example of her nephew, someone who had been adopted from foster care as a child.  One day when we came in the story took a very solemn turn - in a very public way (all over local news), this teenage boy had tried to blow-up his parents home.  Everyone survived but it was a real eye-opener for all of us who were in that class because we had been hearing about this child, we had seen the news story about the situation, and then watched someone we'd come to know have to personally go through the emotions associated with having this happen in their family.  At the end of the day, among other things of course, the boy's behavior was attributed to his feeling that he didn't belong.  He was from a different race than the parents and despite having been adopted many, many years earlier, the boy felt different from everyone else and the parents didn't get him help.  (We were told) they felt like they had a good family and everything should have been ok - that he DID belong even if he didn't feel like it so nothing else (counseling, etc.) was done.

Today I bring you a guest post from Agnes Jimenez on how to help adopted teens feel they belong.  I'd suggest these are good things to consider for children of all ages who are in or who have ever been in care.

How to Instill a Sense of Belonging in Your Adopted Teen

As the parent of an adopted teen, you must understand that your child is going to have certain issues that other children will not face. This is just part of being adopted, and there is nothing that you can do to change the way that such an event occurred. However, you can work very hard to show your adopted teen that you love them, that they belong in your family, and that they can trust you. When you do this, you can change the way that the adoption impacts your child.
  •  Express Love and Affection
    One of the biggest things that you can do to help your teen now is to show that teen that you love them at every chance that you get. Some parents make the mistake of thinking that their child already knows about their love. Even if this is true, reinforcing those feelings can make a large difference. Go out of your way to tell your teen how you feel, even if that is not a strong part of your personality. 
  • Be Involved
    You can really show your teen that you care if you are involved in his or her life. Go to all of your daughter's piano recitals. Never miss one of your son's football games. This is good advice for all parents, but it must be a priority for the parents of adopted children. If you are involved, it shows that you care, which can speak more loudly than any words. 
  • Portray Adoption as a Positive Thing
    Some adopted teens think that they were rejected by their birth parents. This can make them feel abandoned and insecure. Talk to them about how you think of adoption as a wonderful thing that brought the child into your life. When they see how differently you view it, they will know how much they mean. (Mie's Note: While I agree with this point, I would also suggest based on the story I shared that we must also acknowledge the pain associated with the loss of the child's first family, helping through the grief process and not just covering it up with stories of how perfect adoption might seem).
  • Hold Family Events
    Finally, you need to put special emphasis on family events. Go camping together. Have game nights. Take vacations to other countries. The more that you can do to help your family bond as a whole, the more the adopted child will feel like a part of it. 

If you do these four things, you can really show your adopted child that you care. You can show that child that he or she is a valued and intrinsic part of the family. It is always important to work to demonstrate to your teen that they belong, that they are wanted, and, most of all, that they are loved. 


About the Guest Author
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and currently partners with in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them).  Help Your Teen Now aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and societal stresses of today's teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.


Foster Mommy NY said...

I really like this and if it is ok I would like to put a link to this from your blog to my blog?

Mie said...

Thanks! That would be fine.