Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The teen boys...

Teen boys, I've known a few. Most are just little kids in awkward, suddenly-big bodies. When my oldest boys were young, they were kind and polite, at least in public. People would say to me, "just wait until they get to be teenagers," as if they would sprout devilish horns and become miserable, anti-social and uncivilized. Some kids do, I guess. Maybe I just got lucky. I know I wasn't a perfect mom, because they have been open enough to share with me the ways in which I failed them.

I just remember LOVING them during their teen years. I rejoiced at the transitioning from dependency to independence. I relished letting them take risks and challenge themselves. It wasn't intentional, and I didn't really understand it until I had a chance to look back.

I met some amazing teens in Ukraine last year. Maybe because I'm a mom of so many boys, but those motherless and fatherless boys really grabbed my heart. Take Sasha, for example...

...he got his hands on my iPad one evening and went bonkers! The sweet boy took photos of EVERYTHING he could find. The toilet, the cabinets, the towels, fruit in a bowl, himself in the mirror. When I showed him that he could take photos of himself without the mirror, he was so excited...and he took a bunch more photos of himself. I cannot bear to delete a single photo that he took. His childlike spirit touched my heart. He's a sweet boy!


And then there is Valeriy, a university student I met, an orphan from the age of four. He accompanied me to Kyiv as I prepared to fly home with Max. Valeriy has a tender heart for orphans and was such a big help to me in the first few days caring for Max outside the orphanage. My apartment was not ready the morning we arrived in the city, so we went to stay with another adopting family for breakfast and to hang out for a few hours. This sweet family had just taken custody of the sibling group they adopted, so the apartment was full! I know that Valeriy would not have wanted me to see it, but it was painfully plain on his face...he won't ever be adopted...he was the only person in the apartment with no family.

He applied for a visa to visit the USA, but was denied. He is now attending a trade school, and not getting enough to eat. The life of an orphan graduate is brutal. It's no wonder many of them give up altogether.

It makes me think of sweet boys like my Sergey. I makes me wonder what his life will be like in three or four years. Will he be strung out on pain pills or huffing glue? Will he be stealing things to sell for food money? The statistics don't look good. Without loving guidance, how will he navigate the big bad world?

Have you ever considered adopting a teen? Have you actually done it? Would you share a little bit about your experience in the comments section below? Thank you so much!


Janice said...

We have adopted three teens so far, soon to be four as we ready ourselves to travel soon for a 15 year old boy. They have all been the greatest blessings. Their attitudes have been nothing but humble gratitude. They have been excited as they have taken it all in, their new country, new language, new foods and culture. I have said before and will say again, my older adopted children are my heroes. They have stared the unknown straight in the face and gone forward anyway into new lives because they are hoping for a better future. They want the love of a family so much! They know what lies out there for them if they are not adopted and it is scary. Please give the orphaned teens of this world a chance. They want one so badly.... The chance to prove all the naysayers wrong. The chance to be loved and love in return. The chance to have a future.

Anonymous said...

I've read about several missionary/charitable groups that provide support for aged-out Ukrainian orphans -- a bit of extra money for food, clothes and school supplies to help ensure they are able to complete trade school, college or university.

If the aged-out teen finishes school with good grades, they are eligible to apply for Fulbright Scholarships (you need killer grades, but the scholarship is VERY generous). There's likely a Ukrainian Fulbright committee with volunteers that can advise the applicant on how to prepare a successful application.

I haven't adopted a teen but have 3 sisters adopted from foster care - my BFF (from age 4) and her baby sisters at almost 17, 8 and 7.
The adoption was finalized just as BFF and I were starting our senior year, so she only lived at home full-time for 10 months, til college, and after that just Xmas, spring break, summers, etc like me.

All 4 of us were college grads before we turned 23 :-) People are often hesitant to adopt older kids, alcohol/drug exposed kids, kids that spent years bouncing around foster care, etc (my sisters were all of those things -- their birth parents fought but ultimately failed to conquer their drug/alcohol demons in time to avoid TPR) but kids are incredibly resilient, and will live up to expectations if you let them!

When my kids are a bit older (currently toddlers; hubby and I are nearly 40), I am very much hoping to adopt/foster an older teen or two :-)

Mama of 3 said...

While I'm not adopting a teen, we are in U right now adopting a sibling set of brothers ages 11, 8, 7. The oldest boy is the one I was scared of, and he is the SWEETEST THING ever. We hosted him to "prove" to ourselves that he was "too old" for us and instead we fell in love. He carries my purse around for me, helps with shopping, climbs the apple trees just to find me the perfect apple, asks me to help with his friend's English homework. Seriously just the best kid. He's had to parent his younger brothers his whole life and its like he has a deeper appreciation for me because I am willing to take that job from him. A year ago I was saying we'd never adopt an "older boy" and here we are adopting 3. Don't overlook the boys. They need a mama & papa too.