Teens need families

Thousands of teens in foster care are looking for the love, support, and encouragement that families provide throughout their lives—not just until they turn 18

  • Adoption means feeling happy and safe and finally being part of a family. Kyle Age: 16
  • I love art and traveling and would like to be a police detective when I grow up. Ladavia Age: 14
  • I would like a family that gives me opportunities to grow and also respects my freedom. Christian Age: 17
  • I want a family to know that if you love me, I will love you back. Rose Age: 15
  • I can bring a lot of happiness to a family because I love to be happy. Jamiah Age: 13
  • Valentine hopes to have a family who listens to him and likes to do things he enjoys, like fishing. Valentine Age: 15
  • I want a family to know that education means a lot to me and I have many goals and aspirations. Alyssa Age: 16
  • I want to be adopted and would be happy with any family that is willing to adopt me. Hubert Age: 17
  • I want a family that will love and care for me as I enter into adulthood. Ian Age: 16
  • I’m hoping to have a family who can help me with my goal of becoming an aviation mechanic. Jonathan Age: 16
  • Adoption means having a family you can joke around with and it won’t be taken the wrong way. Kiera Age: 16
  • I would like a famly who will love me even when I’m challenging. Randall Age: 15
  • I would like a family to know that I have overcome many challenges in my life. Verica Age: 15
  • I want a family to know that I’m funny, awesome, creative, happy all the time, colorful—and nice. Carlie Age: 13
  • I am a good kid. I just need a family to believe in me! Christian Age: 16
  • I am hoping for a family who is honest and trustworthy and will go on vacations. Lesha Age: 14
  • Faith is looking for a family to bake with. Hope says she will be a great person in a new family! Faith and Hope Ages: 13, 13
  • I love myself. I am awesome! Shamariona Age: 13
  • Adoption means having a forever family. And that would be really cool. Joey “JD” Age: 14
  • Life with a family will be good. Misty Age: 18
  • I want a family to spend holidays with and to start a life with people who care. Mariana Age: 15
  • I would like to have a nice family who will be there to support me when I need it the most. Alexis Age: 15
  • To people who don’t think that teens want or need to be adopted I would say, give them a chance…or two…or twenty. Aria Age: 18
  • I just want a loving and understanding family. Shaleen Age: 17
  • Being adopted would mean knowing I always have a place to go after I turn 18. Veronica Age: 16
  • Adoption means having stability in my life and a family I can count on. Kreistein Age: 15
  • I want families to know that I am a smart and talented young man. Christian Age: 15
  • Adoption means families with open hearts, open minds, happy souls, and determination. Dashaunique Age: 15
  • Being adopted would be the greatest Christmas present ever. Bakka Age: 17
  • Adoption means having a forever family who will give me a new start! Andrew Age: 15
  • I want a family to know that I have respectful manners and I open doors. Plus, I remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Damien Age: 14
  • A family cannot change my past, but they can be there for me and encourage me as I move forward. Ronazjha Age: 17
  • I would like to have siblings—and a cat or a dog. Amber Age: 17
  • I love being in a family that loves to hug! Alex Age: 14
  • I want a family to know that I am big and I like sports! Aaron Age: 15
  • I want a family to know that I am athletic, respectful, and caring. Anton Age: 16
  • Adoption means having a family to be with. I don’t like being alone. Austin Age: 14
  • I’m most excited about adoption because it means being reunited with my younger brother and sister. Cameron Age: 14
  • CJ would like a family who will love him unconditionally. CJ Age: 14
  • Adoption means a home where people care about you and don’t mistreat you and want to keep you forever. David Age: 14
  • I want families to know that I am helpful, mature, loving, responsible—and athletic! Dillon Age: 15
  • Family means always having someone who is there and willing to love you. Megan Age: 15
  • Adoption means having a family that wants to keep you—regardless of age—and will support you forever. Steven Age: 15
  • Adoption means a chance to start over. A chance to be loved. Thestus Age: 15
  • I would like to have a family that likes fishing, hunting, and camping. Tyler Age: 17
  • Having a family means that someone will be there to support me in becoming the best person I can be. Brian Age: 13
  • Adoption means having one family and not having to change homes. Rashon Age: 17
  • I can do things for myself, but I would like someone to be there when I can’t. Luka Age: 17
  • It’s not just that I want a family, I need a family! Manny Age: 15
  • Adoption means having something to hope for. Scott Age: 13
  • I want a family that will let me be a kid and help me grow and never leave me. Tyler Age: 15
  • Being adopted didn’t mean that we lost our old life, we just added more to it. Hannah, Emma, Colin Ages: 16, 14, 12
  • I’m a good kid. I like to stay out of trouble as much as I can, and it usually works out. Jaydyn Age: 16
  • Thank you to these courageous young people, who are in foster care or were recently adopted, for sharing their thoughts about adoption and family.
 

Older youth who are adopted from foster care are more likely to finish high school, go to college, and be more emotionally secure than their peers who remain in or age out of foster care without a permanent family. Yet many people question older youth’s need to have permanent, loving families.

Below we address some commonly asked questions about adopting older youth.

Why should we adopt a teen? They’re almost adults!

You never outgrow needing a family. Everyone needs a sense of belonging. Through adoption, older youth are connected to a family that can provide a sense of stability, lasting connections, and guidance with important life tasks—including enrolling in higher education, finding stable housing, securing employment, and establishing healthy relationships.

If I adopt a teen, will I have to pay their college tuition?

Children and youth who were adopted from foster care at age 13 or older are considered to be an independent student on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which means they don’t have to count family income and are more likely to qualify for financial aid.

In addition, many states and organizations provide financial assistance to children and youth who are in foster care or who were adopted from the foster care system. Youth who are adopted from the foster care system at age 16 or older may be able to access Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program assistance, which provides up to $5,000 per year for youth who are in college or at an accredited vocational or technical training program.

Find more information about educational assistance at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

What about medical and mental health benefits?

Federal and state adoption assistance programs help adoptive parents meet children’s varied needs. Qualifying families may receive monthly maintenance payments, medical assistance, and other support, often until the child turns 18 or 21, depending on the state where they live.

Read more about available adoption assistance at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Do teens have a say in their adoption? How do I know if a teen wants to be adopted?

 

Yes! Almost every state has a requirement that youth of a certain age provide consent to be adopted. The age varies by state. Fourteen is the most common consent age, but many states require youth as young as ten to consent to adoption. Learn about an adopted teen’s experiences and needs by reading the factsheet, Parenting Your Adopted Teenager, on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

This illustration proves a point: we NEVER outgrow the need for family!

Can I adopt an older youth after they turn 18?

Laws vary from state to state, and many have laws allowing adoption after a youth reaches the age of majority. Because we never outgrow the need for family, being adopted after the age of 18 is still beneficial for youth who have spent time in foster care. Search state adoption laws at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Can a teen I am fostering to adopt get a driver’s license?

While laws vary from state to state, many states provide financial assistance to help youth in foster care or an adoptive placement take driver’s education classes and get their license. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to learn more.

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