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The teenage years can be a time for questioning and exploring identity for many adolescents, where feeling a sense of belonging is so important. For teens who are adopted, it can often be hard to find other adoptees their age, or older adoptees to look up to. Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children, an adoption services and support organization in New York City, provides that connection for adolescent adoptees through its Teen Mentorship Program. The group mentorship program brings tween and teen adoptees together with adult adoptee mentors for structured, fun, interactive, community-building activities as well as conversation on adoption themes.
Spence-Chapin offers a New York City-based program for tweens and teens ages 11-18 which is returning to in-person programming this fall, and a nationwide virtual program for ages 13-18. The adult mentors who participate are 21 years and older and are carefully selected and trained. Many of the mentors have been in the program for more than five years, with some having started out as mentees themselves. Mentors understand the importance of their role and truly value their time with the teens. Often, the mentors learn just as much from the teens as the teens do from them.
For many teens in the program, this is the first time they have ever been in a space with only adoptees, which is a very powerful and impactful experience.
Jessica M. Luciere, Spence-Chapin’s Manager of Community Engagements, who leads the Mentorship Program, was also one of its founding mentors. Jessica is an international transracial adoptee, and Adoptee Advocate, who understands the importance this program has on young adoptees.
“Providing a space for conversations, different perspectives and experiences to be shared and heard is invaluable to helping the younger generation of adoptees find confidence in being who they are. Mentorship provides a community to adoptees in the most formative years of their lives and creates bonds that are long lasting.”
For parents of children who are adopted, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to advocate for your child or to help them in 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 clinicians with support from adult adoptees. Parents have the space to discuss obstacles they may be facing in raising their adolescent, while also creating a community for themselves with parents who also “get it.”
To learn more about the NYC and National Teen Mentorship Programs at Spence-Chapin, and to register for this upcoming semester, please visit here.