Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years

Parenting adopted teens can be fun and challenging. What are some tips and tricks for parenting adopted teens and tweens? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Katie Naftzger, LICSW, a psychotherapist that specializes in adoption and a transracial adoptee adopted from Korea.

Hit the Highlights
  • Parents need to develop 4 skills for helping their kids through their teen years.
    • Learning to not rescue their kids
    • Setting adoption sensitive limits
    • Having connected conversations
    • Helping your teen envision their future
  • Being adopted is not just an isolated event, it’s part of ones identity that is constantly evolving and changing.
  • Adoptive parents may have trouble distinguishing our need as a parent for our child to feel better from what is best for our child, so we do all we can to assuage their fears or concerns because we need them to feel better. What they may really need is for us to just listen and hear their fear or pain and not try to make it all better.
  • Why is a maturing body and sexual development threatening and scary to some adopted teens?
  • For some adopted teens having a baby is a way to have a biological connection to a child or a way to more closely identify with a birth parent or a way to have a different ending to the situation the birth parent was in. Is the pregnancy rate higher for adopted teens than non-adopted teens? What can parents do to help?
  • Every issue with your adopted teen is a family issue. You talk about the tremendous impact that parents have on their teens, but many parents think they have so little impact.
  • Do you see a difference in teens in an open adoption vs. a closed adoption?
  • Bringing up adoption in the teen years. We say parents should make the first move with younger kids, but what about teens?
  • The sometimes almost overwhelming desire to rescue our teens. For an adoptee, being rescued is part of their narrative. This need to rescue is tied up with attachment style parenting and perhaps a bit of helicopter parenting.
  • Why adoptive parents are afraid to let our kids fail.
  • Being abandoned and feeling abandoned are two different things.
  • Why do adoptive parents in particular seem to struggle with setting limits.
  • Talking about adoption and setting limits doesn’t mix.
  • Minefields in conversations with adopted teens.
  • Tips for having an empathetic conversation with your teen.
  • Why is it important for kids to envision their future and why is this one of the 4 top skills adoptive parents need to develop.
  • Race and transracial adoption in the teen years.

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Image credit: NineInk Studio