Every Conversation Matters
Every teen has a unique story that influences their individual goals and aspirations for their life. As adoption professionals, we must listen to and seek to understand each youth to collaborate with them to achieve permanency. When teens are engaged in conversations about their life, they can make more informed decisions about adoption. This year's National Adoption Month theme, "Every Conversation Matters," recognizes that youth engagement is an ongoing process that can begin with a single conversation.
For child welfare and adoption professionals, engaging youth should not be a box to check. Achieving authentic youth engagement is a journey that often begins with a single conversation. The National Adoption Month website provides resources that highlight the importance of engaging youth in permanency planning. More importantly, the website provides the following tips—developed in partnership with a young adult who was adopted from foster care about how to build authentic, trusting relationships with teens:
- Be honest and real about what is happening. Provide youth with the opportunity to express their thoughts and ask questions.
- Explore expectations together. Clearly communicate what each of you will do to achieve the youth's goals.
- Remember that relationships, including the one you have with youth, are healing. Focus on and prioritize relationships.
The National Adoption Month 2021 website also features practice examples from Children’s Bureau Adoption Grant recipients related to building relationships with teens; understanding the impact of trauma, separation, and loss; and preparing teens and adoptive families for permanency. Additionally, there are resources to help youth harness their power and share their story. The Youth Voices page features stories and videos capturing what adoption and family means to young people. The Spread the Word section provides an outreach toolkit, downloadable graphics, and sample social media and email messages to help increase awareness about the need for adoptive families for teens.
3 Resources to Engage Youth in Permanency Planning
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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