Teens Need Caring Homes Too

Teens Need Caring Homes Too

At Cornerstones of Care, we get a lot of requests from families who want to foster or adopt "the littles" - infants, toddlers, and youngsters in the early elementary school grades. While we all want to ensure the littles have safe, caring homes, these requests, often based on misperceptions, ignore our most significant need: to foster or adopt teenagers. 

November is National Adoption Month, and the need to find caring homes for teens is critical, especially among older children. In 2020, 3,638 children over the age of nine were in Kansas foster care. In Missouri, that number was 8,825. Over the years, we've had foster parents who were convinced they only wanted to work with "the littles" find fostering teens is a rewarding experience. To help interested foster parents consider fostering teens, let's bust a few myths. 

Myth 1: Teens are aggressive and dangerous, and they are hard to manage. 

Like any child who has suffered trauma, teenagers will have to overcome challenges through therapy and other resources. "Because they are older, they may have been in several foster homes and are wary of a new situation," says Kristin, who has been a foster parent for seven years. 

Kristin and her husband have worked with children ranging from birth to 18 years olds. Initially, they were mainly interested in fostering children from birth to five years old but have found rewards in fostering teens with a wide range of medical and behavioral needs. They found teens need love, guidance, structure, and safety the most. 

"The teens feel angry and helpless," Kristin explains. "They are more aware of what is going on in their cases and, because of this, they often lose faith in the system." 

Myth 2: Teenagers in foster care are too old to learn positive behaviors.

Kristin points out that young adults who are former foster teens often mention a few influential people in their lives who helped shape them as productive adults. Giving a teen a new beginning in a home can have a positive impact. Rosette, who has fostered her niece and nephew for a year, is beginning to see behavior changes among the pair, who are entering their teen years. Encouraging chores, helping with the house, and developing a sense of accountability has been a good first step. 

"They are learning to be helpful," Rosette shares. "Positive reinforcement and holding them accountable goes a long way."

Myth 3: Teens don't want a family. They will be out on their own soon. 

Virtually all teenagers are known for their attitude as they try to exercise their independence. 

"Teens in foster care still deserve a loving family who can provide guidance, connection, and a sense of belonging," Kristin explains. "I still reach out to adults in my life for guidance. Teens in foster care may be a few years away from aging out of the system, but they're still a child, and we never outgrow our need for family ties."

"The sense of belonging among teens in care extends beyond the family and home," Rosette adds. Her foster teens are making friends at school, adding to their community connection, and providing a sense of belonging. Her nephew is interested in sports and is finding workout buddies, which gives him additional structure. 

Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent should talk with others who have fostered teens to get a clear perspective of the rewards of working with "the bigs." As with fostering any child, there will be challenges along with opportunities to make a positive difference in a teenager's life and build a lifelong relationship. 


Learn more about becoming a foster parent.