Created by The Atlantic’s marketing team and paid for by Ad Council + AdoptUSKids
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What Adopting A Teen Taught Me

What Adopting A Teen Taught Me

The typical narrative of an adoption usually involves a baby or toddler: someone young and impressionable enough to shape as they grow up. But there’s another way to think about adoption.

When parents decide to adopt a teenager—or five—they’re given the opportunity to change lives. But what they probably don’t expect is that some of those lives will be their own. We spoke to families across the United States to hear about the unexpected bonds they formed and the moment they learned the ultimate lesson when it comes to adoption from foster care: It’s not about who’s in the family to start with. It’s about the home and memories you create together.

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The Padovas’ Story

The Bryants’ Story

The Arntsons’ Story

We asked seven families who have adopted teens to write letters to their teenage children telling them what they learned and gained from adopting them. The children also wrote to their parents to tell them about what being adopted has brought to their lives and what it has meant to them as they’ve become adults. The letters tell stories about resilience and compassion…and about missed curfews and their favorite TV shows.

Teenagers deserve loving families just as much as younger children do. And they might end up being an unexpected source of wisdom and hope.

But the number of teens waiting to be adopted continues to increase, and teens face a particularly challenging time getting adopted. AdoptUSKids exists to raise awareness across the U.S. about the need for adoptive families for the hundreds of thousands of youth in foster care. Through its programs and by sharing stories like these, the project works to connect children and teens with potential adoptive families who will give them the support and encouragement they need throughout their teen and adult lives. To find out what teenage adoption can teach you and how to begin the process, visit

Visit to learn more about adopting a teen.