Growing Up Adopted: Parenting Teenagers


Practical advice for parenting adopted teens, from ages 13 through 19.

author Gary Matloff visiting his son, adopted as an older child, as a freshman at college

“…and Letting It Be” – My Son’s Transition to College

“…and Letting It Be” – My Son’s Transition to College

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.

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author Gary Matloff with his sons, after adoption and now, as teens

“The Fine Line Between Letting Go and Being Let Go”

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?

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author Billy Cuchens with his transracially adopted teenage son

“Home Safe Every Night”

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?

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Author Louis De Lauro with his family on their adoption trip and now, with his teenage daughter

“From Then to Now”

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.

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an adoptive mother committed to saying yes and parenting her teenage son with positivity

Just Say “Yes” to Positive Parenting

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?

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An adopted teen looks into the distance

Your Job as Consultant and Coach

By talking through possible actions and consequences, you can help your child develop decision-making and long-range thinking skills.

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father's hand placing missing piece in wooden heart tangram puzzle, representing healing after older child adoption

“One of the Missing Pieces”

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.

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A teen adoptee graduates from high school before going to college

3 Tasks for College-Bound Adoptees

"Going to college provides the time and distance for young adult adoptees to experiment with and sort out their own interests and self-expectations."

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Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: Just Found Out That My Child Is Friends with His Birth Mother on Facebook

“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?”

A teen who wants to start a birth parent search

When Teens Want to Search for Birth Parents

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.

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A mother and her transracially adopted teen son share a moment of empathy and connection

Navigating the Teen Years, Part 2: Maintaining Your Emotional Connection

Teens don't tend to talk with their friends about their feelings about being adopted, being teased, or other tough topics. But if you have a healthy, trusting relationship, they'll open up to you. An adoption therapist advises on maintaining an empathic connection with your teen.

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