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!