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Teenagers are complex beings, and need to be handled sensibly. Being a parent of a teenager is a tough job, due to the oodles of responsibility that comes along with it. During teenage, children develop their own identity and try to become independent. They are morally and emotionally quite vulnerable at this age. If you are a parent of an adopted teenager, the situation becomes even more complex. Each adopted teen has varying degree of information about his adoptive parents, time of adoption and contacts with other family members, which affects their development differently. As adoptive parents, you must understand the child’s perception and point of view, to completely understand how the adoption issues might affect his development during the teenage years.
During adolescence, boys and girls have significant physical changes due to hormones. While teens may begin to look like young adults, they are still children at heart, at need the same supervision, care and affection. This is a period of significant brain development as well. While adoption may or may not affect the child’s brain development, the parents must make the child interact with others at social, cultural and academic gatherings. There must be a limit on extent of private time that the child spends. Teens must spend less time in front of computer screen, and more with their bonds, to make their communication strong. Knowing what the child feels will be helpful in allaying his irrational fears, and also make him feel accepted.
All teenagers struggle to define their own identity. They begin to set their own moral values and career path at this age, and distinguish themselves from their parents, friends and other family members. With adopted teenagers, this questioning process is even deeper. As they might not know of their complete background, they might think they have some undesirable traits or disabilities from their birth parents. The adoptive parents must provide them with this missing information, and help the child develop a balanced viewpoint about his birth parents. Do not stress upon the negative qualities like early pregnancy and drugs, which might depress the child. One may also encourage their teen’s interaction with other adopted teenagers, as they share the same experience. It might help him open up and communicate better with everyone.
Try to develop a strong bond between you and your adopted child. They need more affection and guidance as they feel aloof. Point out similarities between the teen and you, as it will make him feel more comfortable. At the same time, do not make the love and support obvious, as it will also make the child conscious about him being adopted.
Adopted teens want to know details about their birth families. Parents do not realize the amount of time their adopted children spend in pondering over their previous lives. Parents need to supportive and provide all the information they need, but not shock the child. The child may feel scared or offended to raise such questions, so it is important that you sense this and quench your child’s curiosity before him raising a question. Also, let the child know that you are open to discussing such issues.
With clear understanding, communication, support and supervision, adoptive parents can make their children grow into responsible and happy adults who will respect their lives, others and be capable of supporting their own families in future.