Adopting a child is already challenging, as raising a child not your own can possible raise issues later on of not dealt with properly. But adopting a teenager is even more challenging, since the teenager has a mind of his/her own, is able to talk back and reason out, and is already aware of his/her rights and will call the social worker or the police for the slightest sign of threat.
It is already allowed in the US for teenagers to be adopted, since it has been observed that most teenagers who reach 18 are vulnerable to drugs, prostitution and crime, simply because they have no solid moral foundation, which can only be found in a family with a healthy home environment. So if you are interested to adopt a teen, check out these steps:
Find out if you are qualified. Unlike foster care, adopting a teen has more requirements. You need to undergo a home study and an educational component must be completed before you are qualified to adopt. For the home study, a social worker will be conducting interviews with you and your family. This is to assess your knowledge about adoption, and for them to find out how you are in the family, how you manage challenges, and how you plan to deal with issues that may arise when the adopted teen is already at home. The educational component is seminars to equip the parents with information and focuses on the challenges that may arise later on.
Look for a teen to adopt. Once you have completed the state requirements for home study and the series of seminars, you will be allowed to choose among a list of teens. You may also find teens up for adoption over the Internet.
Be prepared. Aside from the preparations you have gone through during the home study and seminars, you also need to prepare yourself and your family for the new adoptive sibling. Talk about the house rules, division of house chores, money matters and family activities. If you have other children in the family, assure them that you will be treating everyone equally, and also make sure they understand that they are expected to treat their adoptive sibling like their own, and not a stranger. Read on materials that deal with teenage issues, keep updated with teen fashion and find out your adoptive teen's favorite sports and activities. Talk to other adoptive parents who have prior experience and learn from their insights. Keep in touch with them especially when you need tips and advice.
Continue being a parent. When your adoptive teen arrives, make him/her feel at home, but do not exaggerate that you overlook your other children's needs. Remember to treat them all equally. Practice patience and control your temper when your teen starts to act out. It is best to make them feel they are as special as every other child in the family. Teens that have experienced abandonment are often hard to please, and have trust issues. It will take time before they actually warm up, but be consistent and give them a lot of (realistic) praises, in the same way that you do to your other kids. Keep your promises as abandoned teens never forget a promise.