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There are approximately 424,000 currently in the foster care system currently. And each year, an additional 250,000 are placed into the foster system.

Younger children typically are adopted into the system or fostered out much faster than teenagers. Unfortunately, many people assume they are going to be more challenging, which in turn causes many teenagers to be stuck without a home. Some children placed into foster care only remain in it for a short time, but others will be stuck in it until they have aged out of the system. This is a sad fact in our current situation.

However, just because a child is older does not mean that they are worth any less. In fact, one could argue that teenagers need to be adopted out more- because they need our support and guidance more than ever. Here are 9 things that teenagers in the foster system wish that you knew.

1. Don’t be afraid of us.

So many people are intimidated by us, and we do not understand why. Yes, we have problems, but with the right guidance and love, we have so much potential. We simply need a chance.

2. We need somewhere safe.

If you decide to take us on, please make sure that you are up for the task. There again, that is not because we are a challenge but because we need to know without a shadow of a doubt that we will be safe. We have been through so much already.

3. We need consistency.

When you choose to foster us, remember, consistency is key. Our lives have been so unstable. We need to know that we aren’t going to be failed again.

4. We need patience.

Throughout our lives, we have endured things that most adults haven’t even had to endure. We are traumatized and have dealt with situations that made it hard for us to trust. Just give us time.

5. We are going to have triggers caused by our trauma.

Being placed in the foster situation by itself is traumatic. However, the circumstances that lead us here are even more so. It will take us time to heal and move through trauma, so we need to feel safe and feel validated when we are upset. Just be here for us and help us get the help we need most.

6. We want to be adopted, too.

Even though we are teens, we wish for adoption too. We need a forever family that will help us through our milestones, even after we have reached 18.

7. We need a family that can help us to grow to be happy and successful.

Furthermore, we have come from a background in which our entire lives were thrown upside down. Now, we need a family to help guide us, help push us, and help us grow into our best selves. We want a normal life, a happy life, more than anything.

8. We need an advocate.

Part of your job once you take us on is to advocate on our behalf. Even if you are just a counselor in our lives- please be there for us. We need someone in our corner to help cheer us on and to fight alongside us for a better life.

9. We need someone who can take us on forever, not just temporarily.

For those beautiful people who do decide to take us in, please remember, there is a very real chance we will be in your lives forever, or at least, we hope you are up for that task. If our parents do not return, we are going to need someone to walk us down the aisle, someone to tell us how to apply for college and someone to tell us why these things matter.