Foster teens who have been in crisis after crisis have a very difficult time adapting and feeling loved. Generally, they are more exposed to lifelong attachment issues than other teens. This is the story of one young lady who has been broken many times and how the foster family wanted her to know how valuable she was. I would suggest having a few tissues handy. It is very powerful.
Having so many losses in a child’s life naturally alters their teenage years into adulthood. The need for love is so traumatic that it doesn’t matter the cost involved in getting that love even if it means deceiving themselves. Teens will crave attention, find themselves involved in addictive patterns, and create problems that can become a danger to their welfare. It doesn’t matter if they are adoptees, fostered or biological.
Before you know it, you are in the midst of a crisis. Is your teen having sex to have a child so that they can retrieve the love that they didn’t get when they were younger? Is your teen gravitating to older men or women for a relationship? Are they constantly on the internet finding and connecting with people to fill that hole of abandonment that they have struggled with for years? Do they show addictive behavior in order to achieve the goal of feeling loved? Or worse yet, crave attention so badly that they would hurt someone else to get it.
Such was the case of 12-year-old Jamarion of Michigan, who stabbed a friend and told a witness ‘I want to die. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore.’ He says Jamarion told him that he lashed out because he had ‘taken many pills’ and nobody loved him. The witness further said the first emergency personnel went to the playground to help the victim. This upset the boy. ‘Hello. I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way,’ Jamarion shouted as officers arrived. Continue reading
Many teens that are adopted or fostered have a huge sense of loss. This loss is a springboard to many other complex issues such as an identity crisis.
Not knowing where they originated from, as in cases where a child was left abandoned, leaves a teen with emotions and thoughts of being outcast and unwanted. Whether you are an adoptive or foster parent, you can give all the love in the world and they would still feel empty and lost and rejected. Those emotions are multiplied when that teen compares themselves to their family and other cultures and comes to the conclusion that they don’t belong with anyone.
Such was the case for my daughter who has dark hair, tan skin, and appearing as a mix of Arab, Asian, European, and Polynesian. Now add the fact that she has parents who are Irish/Swiss and white. Talk about standing out in a crowd.
With those very obvious differences, it came with some very strong feelings of being outside of the family instead of within. So what does a teen do? They go on an identity hunt looking for a place where they do fit in. Continue reading
“I will find a way to leave. You are not my mom and dad!” she said. Listening and not responding, we let her continue. “You didn’t birth me. You don’t know how I feel. If you did, you would let me go.”
My heart broke for her that day. All I did was correct her in something she did. That is what all parents do. They correct their children and teens for many different reasons, all for the good. But this wasn’t a normal situation, and for many who have adopted or cared for foster children, they understand this.
Sitting around a table of other women at a conference last year, a parent was sharing how she had to buckle down on her daughter and really let her have it for something she did wrong. I was thinking to myself as she was talking that I could never respond to my child in the same manner. But before I even finished my thought, the woman across from her stated my exact words and she began to tell her own story.
Eating ice cream for the first time.
Slamming her head into the floor over and over with hysterical crying, the helper in the toddler room frantically looked for me to come get her. It was only minutes beforehand that I had dropped her off to the class before entering the sanctuary for church.
I had not thought of what repercussions there would be just by dropping my daughter off to her Sunday school classroom at church. When I saw her banging her head as I entered the room, it dawned on me that she thought I had abandoned her into another orphanage and would never come back. She didn’t know how to articulate how she was feeling and hitting her head consistently on the hard floor was the only way she could say that she was upset. Continue reading