Episode 74: Helping Your Adopted Child Navigate the Teenage Years—with Susan TeBos

June 20, 2023

Rob & Joanna Teigen

Next month, our family remembers one of the most important anniversaries of our life together–the adoption day of our youngest son. We view this day as a blessing and a celebration, but for our son, that day holds a whole mix of feelings. While he loves us and is securely knit in the love of our family, his story holds confusion and loss that are an inherent part of a child’s separation from their birth parents.

As our son grows, we want to create space in our home for him to express his emotions, ask questions, and be confident that he is a wonderful and valuable person. This can be challenging and requires a special set of skills as well as an extra dose of understanding.

As parents, it can be hard to know what is happening inside your adopted child. They don’t always share what they are going through. And they may even be acting out on emotions or beliefs that they are hiding. As a parent, you may be wondering how can we understand your child and their experiences.

Our guest today is Susan TeBos. Susan is a writer, speaker, Bible study leader, adoption advocate, and adoptive mom of three children. She is the author of We’ve Been There: True Stories, Surprising Insights, and Aha Moments for Adopted Teens.

Susan shares with us:

  • Her story of international adoption
  • Why adopted teens may resist bringing up the past
  • The importance of honing your observation skills
  • And more!

We hope this conversation is an encouragement to you as you help your adopted child navigate the teenage years!



Our Takeaways:

1) Hone in your observation skills. As our children enter the teenage years, they are experiencing biological changes, but they may also be getting curious about their biological parents or experiencing other feelings. While there is no one-size-fits-all sign, how your adopted child behaves will be a clue that they are processing things on the inside. This may look like changes in their behavior, unexpected tears, misplaced anger, changes in their energy level, tummy aches, less connection, or isolating themselves. As parents, we need to practice being good observers in order to spot these changes beyond normal teenage behaviors.

2) Fill up their “love bank.”This can be a difficult season of life for your adopted child. They may be processing thoughts and feelings while they go through normal teenage stuff. It’s important that you take the time to fill up their “love bank.” This is more than just giving them gifts, these are things like spending quality time with them, laughing together, and doing things that let them know that they are secure.

3) It isn’t about you.As parents, it is natural to blame ourselves or feel like we are doing something wrong to elicit our child’s behavior. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t about us. This is about what happened to our children in the past. They may even fear that one day they could lose us and that prevents them from building a close relationship. How they react is not about you, it’s about what they experienced in the past and how they are processing those things in the present.

Meet Our Guest

Susan TeBos

Susan TeBos

Susan TeBos is a writer, Bible study leader, adoption advocate, and adoptive parent. She was inspired to write We’ve Been There after her own three adopted children from Siberia went through struggles as teens. Susan lives in Michigan with her husband, Mike. In her spare time, she enjoys family movie nights, hanging out by the campfire, and mountain biking.


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