A Guide for Caseworkers to Help Prepare Teens for Adoption
To every child who comes into care, society makes a promise to restore him/her to a stronger, healthier, more stable family than the one from which he/she is removed, either by returning the child to his or her family of origin strengthened by the intervention of child welfare, or by helping the child bond to a new family.
Children and youth experience this as an urgent need. When this promise is not fulfilled over time, young people sometimes despair of ever realizing this promise. Their disappointment and anger never exempts the professionals who work with them from fulfilling the promise, no matter how difficult that may seem.
“Have you talked to the youth about the people in their past whom they remember and with whom they want to be in touch? Have you asked the young person about the people presently in their lives with whom they have connections? Who do they want in their lives when they are adults?”
Preparing the Youth to Consider Adoption
What have you done to prepare a youth to consider adoption?
- Has the youth met with other youths who have been successfully adopted and are still in touch with members of their birth family?
- Have you asked the youth, “Where do you want to belong?” as opposed to “Do you want to be adopted?”
- Does the youth understand that s/he can be adopted and still be loyal to their birth family?
- Does the youth understand open adoption and how it would apply in his/her case?
- Has the youth met (young) adults who were adopted as adolescents?
- Has the youth had an opportunity to meet prospective adoptive parents who are interesting in adopting an adolescent?
The suggested list of casework practices aimed a securing family connections for young people is not exhaustive, and should be considered as a point of departure in working with young persons who need our assistance in finding a permanent connection to a nurturing, committed adult.