My older son is off at college, and I’ve been heartened to see that his “new normal” includes a maturing and strengthening of the bond between us. I look back to the day I met him, just over eight years ago, and our years of attachment struggles, even as I look to his future, and ours, with hope.
Growing Up Adopted: Parenting Teenagers
Practical advice for parenting adopted teens, from ages 13 through 19.
When I adopted my two sons eight years ago, they couldn’t separate themselves fast enough from their “old” life in Brazil. As I prepared to visit my oldest son two months into his “new” college life—a lifetime for any freshman—I wondered to what extent he might have compartmentalized his now “old” family life.
I adopted my son as he was entering his teen years, and now, too soon, I have seen him off to college. How will his still tenuous attachment play out when I’m no longer a constant, physical presence in his life?
Isaac is 14 years old, but he’s six feet tall and almost two hundred pounds. He’s also black. He hasn’t been a discipline problem since the day he came home, but someone who doesn’t know him could see him as a threat. So what was I to do on a recent evening when he asked to bike home alone in the dark?
Your child may see you as less understanding than his birth parents might be. Here's how to cope with teenage temper tantrums.
“Our 17-year-old is experiencing depression and has been smoking pot. She told us she sees her depression as connected to adoption, which surprised us, because we’ve always talked openly about adoption. How can we help her?”
I don’t think about adoption on a daily basis; I am just a dad, after all. But when I do, it’s these moments that rise to the surface, indicative of so much else along the way.
If you’re parenting an oppositional child or teen, you probably say “no” a lot. You may say it so often that it’s become your default response, or you may be stuck in the perception that “no” is the healthier option. How can you bring positivity back into your parent-child relationship?
Embracing your child's racial identity means embracing his friends, too.
Stumped by your teen's silences and questions? Here's how to tackle them.
By talking through possible actions and consequences, you can help your child develop decision-making and long-range thinking skills.
When older children argue and act out, it’s often connected to events from their past. How could any child move through 14 foster placements unscathed? But last night, another clash, followed by a heart-to-heart, brought us one piece closer to feeling like a solid family.
"Going to college provides the time and distance for young adult adoptees to experiment with and sort out their own interests and self-expectations."
Teens need their parents' guidance in forming their racial identity.
Teens may try on different identities as they seek to determine who they are.
An adolescent's peers may tell you something about their inner life.
Writing a journal is a great way to build a stronger sense of self.
“I recently found out that my teen is friends with his birth mother on Facebook. I feel badly that I found this out by ‘snooping,’ but I am also shocked and upset that she didn’t try to contact us or the adoption agency first. What should we do?”
Avoid sit down lectures and look for teachable moments to get your teen to open up.
Part of how teens form identity is by finding ways they are alike and different from their family. They may want to search for their genetic relatives to figuring out who they are and how to emotionally put pieces in place.