Foster Arizona Community Blog

Educating & Empowering Arizona's Families
12
Aug

Benefits and challenges of fostering/adopting older kids

blog-imageMy husband and I were 26 years old when we adopted our son, Evyn, who was 16 when National Adoption Day came around. He was the oldest child to solidify his forever home that day. Our story started about a year prior to adoption day when we fostered two teens with extensive trauma histories. My husband and I came into this journey with an infant and a preschooler; we knew nothing of raising teens, other than our own experiences ten years earlier.

There have been many long nights, including tantrums, hurtful words and screams and tears. Doors have slammed, baby gates ripped out of the walls and “I wish I were back in a group home; you don’t love me.” My heart has been ripped up and mended over and over with these two…but the love is never lacking. My big babies love and care harder than anyone I’ve ever known. Watching them heal and thrive has got to be the biggest honor of my life.

Have you ever met a teenager who WANTS to hang out and spend quality time with family? My experience has been the following: when you gain the trust of a teenager in care, who has been betrayed in every possible way from each and every adult and system they have come into contact with, your whole world changes. You have a new purpose and that is to change their view of the world. There have been nights I have literally had to rock my big girl to sleep so she wasn’t afraid and she felt secure. I have needed to remind her over and over she is loved and safe and secure. When the trust is gained, they are loyal and committed to your family.

I have seen my teens be incredible siblings to my little ones. A luxury they have lost with their bio siblings. They never take those moments for granted. My life, my kids, will never be the same after choosing this journey with older children in care. I have learned resilience, forgiveness, patience and most importantly how to love when someone feels unlovable. What a gift.

Take a chance on an older kid…what have you got to lose?

Ashley Kelly

Grateful foster mother

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