Teen and young adult forge new family through adoption
When 29-year-old Kayla decided to adopt a child, she had no intention of adopting someone from the foster care system, much less a teenager.
“It had never crossed my mind,” said Kayla.
Then she attended her first adoption information meeting at Children’s Home Society in St. Paul, where she learned about foster care adoptions.
“After that meeting, [adopting from foster care] was the only thing I focused on,” Kayla said. “There were plenty of kids in Minnesota who needed a home, so I didn’t feel the need to go somewhere else.”
She began looking into the adoption process in February 2016. After a year of informational meetings and training sessions, Kayla met Meah in February 2017. Meah moved in with Kayla in March 2017, and her adoption was finalized in July 2017 when she was 13.
It’s been a great fit for both, they said.
“I think for my lifestyle, a teenager just works better, because I didn’t really change how I lived my life,” explained Kayla. “I just take her everywhere I go, so it’s been easy for me to adjust.”
Meah had been in foster care for about three years, and spent time in six or seven foster homes.
“Running around in [foster] homes, being moved around to different schools, different families, it just wasn’t fun,” said Meah. “I would just prefer to live in a forever home where I wouldn’t have to worry about having to move, leaving my family, leaving my friends.”
Kayla said the biggest challenges have been navigating insurance and being inundated with paperwork. Kayla, who works from home, said there’s also been a lifestyle adjustment, having to stick to a fixed schedule and plan meals.
“Because I was a single, mid-20s person, I would eat whatever I wanted and go out with friends for dinner usually. And now I have to make sure there’s breakfast food, and I’m making a dinner,” said Kayla. “It’s not necessarily difficult, it’s just an adjustment.”
Along with the challenges, there have been countless moments of joy – especially as they celebrate their many “firsts” together, including their first Christmas together, their first vacation together, and their first game night together.
“We took a bunch of pictures,” Kayla said of their first game night. “[Meah] loves Yahtzee.”
Kayla suggested prospective adoptive parents “go to all the different informational meetings you can” and find conferences, webinars and trainings to absorb as much information as possible. Kayla also recommended prospective parents know their boundaries, but not be scared off by some of the negative experiences they might hear about in the training sessions.
For children in the foster care system awaiting adoption, Meah acknowledged that “it can get hard sometimes,” but she urged patience.
“I know a lot of people are currently looking for younger kids, but there are people out there who want older kids, and so I’d say don’t stress about it,” said Meah. “You’re going to get adopted by a family that’s going to want you and love you forever.”
Adopting a teen isn’t always easy, Kayla said, but it is rewarding.
“It’s definitely hard, [but] it’s worth it,” Kayla said. “It’s like any other relationship; you have your ups and your downs, but in the end, you still love each other.”
In 2017, 955 Minnesota children were adopted from the foster care system. As of August 2018, 820 children were in need of adoptive families immediately. Of those 820 children, 58 percent are siblings who need to be adopted together, and 39 percent are 12 to 18 years old.
For more information, visit www.mnadopt.org or call 612-861-7115, or see the department’s adoption fact sheet (PDF).