The Joy of Adopting a Teen and a Toddler
There is endless joy in adopting a teen but image adopting both a teen and a toddler at the same time! This is exactly what our friend Katie Irlene did to complete her forever family.
Becoming a Foster Mom
Katie started her journey in January of 2017. She became licensed to foster in August of that year and got her first place the next day, a sibling set of a newborn, 1 and 2-year-old. Over the course of the last 2.5 years, Katie has welcomed 16 children into her home.
I always wanted to be a mom and got tired of waiting for Mr. Right to come around….so fostering seemed like the best solution. I got to be a mom and help kids in need at the same time. I always planned to adopt eventually, but I wasn’t in any hurry. Figured the right kids would come at the right time. I am equally passionate about fostering and reuniting families. I had a sibling set of 2 girls reunify 3 days before Christmas in 2018 and it is by far one of my greatest memories.
No Need to Wait for Mr. Right
On September 25, 2020, Katie officially adopted her two children, ages 1 and 16. Like many foster stories, her children faced a lot of adversity in their lives.
My youngest came to me at birth. His mother, unfortunately, had a long history with the state so when I got the call they said straight up he would almost certainly end in adoption. He struggled a lot in the beginning with withdraws, weight gain, feeding but came through like a champ. A couple of visits with mom as a newborn and that was it. Sometimes it hardly felt like he was in care at all. Took a while to get adoption day just because there were a lot of legalities that come with absentee parents and then covid but 625 days later he was all mine.
While things moved quickly with Katie’s youngest, the story truly unfolds with her daughter Akyra.
Adopting a Teen
Now we all know there are stigmas against adopting a teen. The average age of children adopted out of foster care is 6 which means most adoptions for those over that age become statically harder.
Katie’s social worker introduced her to Akyra (her daughter) on a whim.
Akyra on the other hand was a total surprise. I got the call on March 9th, 2019 from my favorite social worker. She said I know you don’t do teens (the oldest kid I had had was 5), but I have this girl. She’s great, her and her current foster family just need a break. What about just for the weekend? I wanted to help so I said yes and she just clicked. I had respite for her several times over the rest of 2019.
That fall she came to me temporarily for about a week when her home disrupted. I wasn’t ready. Looking back I hate that, but at the time I had 5 under 5 and I just thought she deserved better than a single mom with a house full of little kids. They found her a new home. March 2020 I got the call again. Respite. I had just taken in a newborn sibling leaving me with 6 under 6, but I couldn’t say no. There was no one else.
Respite turned into a temporary placement until they could find somewhere long term. Then she asked to stay, finish out her senior year at her school and go into independent living after that (awesome program the state runs for kids who age out, sets them up with housing, mentors, etc. to help transition them to adulthood). A few months later we were joking around and she said have you ever thought about adopting a teen? And the rest was history. She was part of our family and 189 days after coming to me permanently we said forever.
Foster Care Happens Through Community
One of the most beautiful parts of our conversation with Katie is her view on foster care. It is truly a community that succeeds because of the support from the entire community.
The people. The social workers, CASA volunteers, GALs, foster parent support networks, my family and friends, and so many more. I always say it’s not that I foster, it’s that WE do. I couldn’t do it alone and they make it all possible. There have definitely been some hard days through my fostering journey: setbacks, investigations, disruptions, behavioral struggles. I wouldn’t have come out on the other side with two babies to call my own without them.
We cannot agree more! The good works of everyone allow families like Katie’s to grow and succeed through love.
I’m a mom. Forever. It’s literally been the hardest and most fulfilling thing I’ve ever gone through. I wouldn’t change a single moment though. They are so worth it.
Advice for Those Thinking of Adopting Teens
We asked Katie if she any advice to share and really helped give us more insight into the beauty of adopting a teen.
Say yes to teens. It’s scary. You hear a lot of horror stories and it definitely hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. But the victories man, they are so much more rewarding when you have to fight through the trenches to get there. I look back now and want to shake my past self. I missed out on so much time with Akyra because I was worried about saying yes sooner. Every kid deserves a family. Every.single.one. Even the ones who insist they don’t because they’re ‘almost grown.’ Especially them.
In conclusion, we want to thank Katie for sharing her story about the joys of adopting a teen and toddler. For those looking into adopting, we encourage you to check out our free adoption calculator HERE.