Why a Mentorship Community is Important for Adoptees
“Mentorship changed my life in so many ways. I became more connected to my own identity through sharing experiences and bonding with other Mentees and older mentors. I felt at home being in a room saturated with adoptees, whose stories are at once unique yet connected in a myriad of ways. Today, I view my mentor as one of my most important role models.” – Sydney, Former mentee and current mentor
Having a sense of belonging and being able to connect with those older than us for guidance is a critical part of any adolescent’s life. For teens and tweens who are adopted — having a space where they can openly talk about their ever-changing identities as adoptees, hear from mentors to gain advice, while creating lasting friendships with their peers — can be a critical part of creating a healthy and positive self-reflection of identity.
Since 2005, Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children, an adoption services and support organization in New York City, has been offering this adoptee-led space to adolescents through our Mentorship Programs each year. The Junior and Teen group Mentorship Programs bring adoptees ages 10-18 together with adult adoptee mentors for fun and interactive, community-building activities as well as age-appropriate conversational spaces for adoptee important topics. The Junior Mentorship Program is open to adoptees ages 10-12 and the Teen Mentorship Program welcomes adoptees 13-18 years old. Both programs meet at Spence-Chapin’s headquarters in Manhattan, and throughout New York City for group outings like bowling, ice skating, scavenger hunts, cooking classes, and karaoke.
The adult mentors who participate are adoptees 21 years and older and are carefully selected and trained through Spence-Chapin. Many of the mentors have been in the program several years, with some having started out as teen mentees themselves. Mentors understand the importance of their role and truly value their time with the teens, their experience as mentors helps to sculpt their own identities as older adoptees.
For parents of children who are adopted, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to advocate for your child or to help them with their identity formation. For that reason, Spence-Chapin also offers a parent group that runs parallel to the Mentorship Program, where adoptive parents can connect in conversations that are led by experienced Spence-Chapin staff and clinicians as well as mentors participating in the program. Parents have the space to discuss their experiences in raising their adolescent, while also creating a community for themselves with adoptive parents who also “get it.” Families whose children meet through Mentorship or who attend the parent group, stay connected in meaningful ways long after their children grow up.
“We met while our kids were participating in the Mentorship program. Through the years our families attended functions together…we even traveled together. Our sons were close in age and despite having different adoption stories the boys connected. Even though our children have aged out of the Mentorship program…we often text and stay connected and meet at least once a year for birthdays! It is truly a Godsend to have members of the adoption community to connect with.” – Irene, Adoptive parent.
Registration for the Mentorship Program is now open for the Spring Semester! To learn more about the Junior and Teen Mentorship Programs at Spence-Chapin, and to register for this upcoming semester, please visit here.