Preparing Your Adopted Teenager for Adulthood

As an adoptive parent, you are responsible for preparing your teen daughter to face the world independently. Watching your adoptive child grow from a teenager to an adult is a rewarding experience. However, you might wonder if you are doing everything you can to prepare her for the realities of adult life. As she continues exploring her identity and who she wants to become, provide a reliable and safe space where she can find guidance and support during the more difficult moments of life.

According to The Social Service Review, “During the transition from adolescence to adulthood, increasing maturity comes with expectations that one will take responsibility for oneself, make independent decisions, and become self-sufficient.” Challenges your child might face include budgeting finances, career development, dating and marriage, and finding her own place to live.

How Trauma Affects Young Adulthood

Young women with a history of trauma can have a more difficult time stepping out on their own once they reach adulthood. You can help your teen daughter overcome this difficulty by modeling social skills, emotion regulation, and problem-solving.

Some common ways trauma can affect young women transitioning into adulthood include:

  • Difficulty trusting or building social relationships
  • Increased symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty recognizing safe and unsafe environments
  • Workplace communication issues
  • Attachment issues

You might notice your adoptive teenager begin to withdraw and become more isolated when she encounters setbacks at work, school, or within her social group. You can use those moments to develop a deeper bond with her and help her find healthy strategies for addressing these issues.

Provide a Supportive Environment for Growth

The transition from teenager to adulthood comes with a wide range of internal, external, and social changes. Social expectations shift very quickly; some young women might have difficulty feeling comfortable in their own skin or struggle with low self-esteem. Providing a supportive environment for growth can give your adoptive daughter the confidence to branch out and explore new parts of herself and the world around her.

Many young people want more freedom while still having the safety to fall back on their parents if things don’t go the way they planned. It is normal for young adults to fluctuate frequently between pushing parents away and asking for help coping with the unique problems that come with adulthood. During the late teenage years, adding more responsibilities as well as freedoms to your daughter’s daily life can help her learn about independence and consequences.

During this time, physical and hormonal changes in the body add to the mood swings teens experience. To help your teen transition smoothly, she should have access to the following:

  • Safe school environment
  • Accepting friend group
  • A safe and enjoyable workplace or volunteer role
  • Healthy home environment

Use “Failures” as Teachable Moments

Your daughter might see setbacks as failures, but you can use them as teachable moments. Support your child and let her know that the transition from teen to adult is seldom easy. You can encourage your adoptive daughter by helping her understand what went wrong, why it happened, and what she can do to fix it or try again a different way. Your child will accumulate a range of new information during this time that she can use to strategize and prevent future problems, and you can help guide her through that process.

How to Help Your Daughter Grow Into a Healthy Adult

You have an opportunity to help your daughter establish healthy routines and skills that will give her the tools she needs to succeed. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends parents help their children “develop or strengthen their resiliency” by doing the following:

  • Modeling a positive outlook
  • Building their confidence
  • Helping them build connections
  • Encouraging goal setting
  • Viewing challenges as learning opportunities
  • Teaching self-care
  • Providing opportunities to help others

To grow into a healthy adult, your child must learn to build healthy bonds with the people around them.. Attachment theory suggests that “Attachment issues can occur when a secure, emotional bond formed between a child and a parent is disrupted.” By modeling healthy behaviors, you give your adoptive daughter an excellent opportunity to observe how you cope with everyday stressors and the mechanisms you use to overcome obstacles. She can use that information to grow and evolve into a young adult with healthy relationships.

When to Let Go and Step Back

As your adoptive child reaches adulthood, there will come a moment when you feel ready to let go and step back, giving her room to venture out on her own. Allow her to make her own mistakes and progress without micromanaging. This shows her you respect her choices and want her to be her own person.

No matter how old she gets, your child should always feel comfortable coming to you with their day-to-day problems. Your experience can help her avoid pitfalls her peers may not see coming, giving her an advantage and making it easier for her to maintain positive mental health. Your relationship dynamic will shift as your daughter ages, and each stage is a new opportunity for you to show how much you love and care for her.

Every teenager’s journey to adulthood is slightly different, and many adoptive parents feel helpless as they watch their daughters begin to experience the harsh realities of growing up and moving out of the house. You can be there as a friend and support system for your teen girl as she discovers who she is and what she wants to do with her life. We understand that you might not feel prepared to let your child go. Maybe you worry she will make mistakes or have regrets. Your adoptive child needs you now more than ever, even if she tries to prove her independence by pushing you away. Young adulthood is when teens need both the space to branch out and a safe place to retreat. Havenwood Academy provides skill development and trauma and mental health treatment for young women. Call us today at (435) 586-2500 to learn more.


Think Havenwood Might Be For You?

We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.