Being a teenager today is hard. With non-stop exposure of the internet world, there is a constant stream of knowledge, information, and comparison. Bullying, hormones, love, break ups, unhealthy and high expectations on top of a global pandemic all effect our student’s mental health. Then there are additional traumas that some of them may have experienced. I think of all of this and what it would be like to face an unplanned pregnancy at this stage of life. Heavy.
It makes me proud to be a part of a resource for students facing such challenges but also makes me want to do more for our all AdoptED students we reach. This year we had a referral from an AdoptED student parenting a baby who had been in the ICU for a couple of months. After completing our Virtual Classroom she was curious about adoption because she was unsure if she would have the ability to continue providing her child the medical care they needed. It’s heartbreaking to imagine what strength it took for her to reach out but I am thankful that Gladney is able to provide a family for ALL children with different needs.
Kerry and I were also able to meet with several organizations that serve the needs of similar clients. The most significant of those meetings for me was Unbound North Texas and getting to know their Underground Team, Tarrant County’s first drop-in center for youth. The Underground provides a place for youth to rest, receive light meals, a shower, safety, and referral for services for youth up through age 22. I realized how wonderful this resource could be for AdoptED. There have been times teachers have shared they have a homeless teen in the classroom. We also learned that 75% of trafficked youth were exploited for two or more years before being recovered or identified as a victim. 50% of these youth were age 14 or under when the exploitation started. Some of these statistics could be real life humans in our classroom.
I remember their staff sharing they sometimes have guest who are pregnant or parenting and may not know about adoption. We were able to send them materials and educate them on how to talk to someone about adoption. I was shocked to learn that in the 6 months they had been open, they averaged 10 youth a night entering their facility.
Being able to have the Underground staff a phone call away for students who need a safe place to sleep, eat, unwind and receive services whether that is returning home, to rehab, a shelter or other long term residential options is critical. When in the classroom sharing adoption information, we often discuss difficult life challenges, but some students may not become pregnant and I am relieved to know that AdoptED can provide resources in the community for those students with challenges too. I can’t wait to share this collaboration with the educators and school counselors we are connected with.