Why a Mentorship Community is Important for Adoptees
“Mentorship has changed my life in many ways. I became more connected to my own identity by sharing experiences and bonding with other Mentees and older mentors. I felt at home in a room full of adoptees, whose stories were at once unique but connected in so many ways. Today, I look up to 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 teenager’s life. For teens and tweens who are adopted – there is a space where they can openly talk about their ever-changing identities as adoptees, hear from mentors to get 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 offered this teen-led adoption space through our Mentorship Programs each year. Junior and Teen group Mentorship Programs bring adoptees ages 10-18 together with adult adoptive mentors for fun and interactive, community-building activities as well as age-appropriate spaces in conversation for adopted important topics. The Junior Mentorship Program is open to adoptees ages 10-12 and the Teen Mentorship Program welcomes adoptees ages 13-18. Both programs meet at Spence-Chapin’s headquarters in Manhattan, and throughout New York City for group outings such as bowling, ice skating, scavenger hunts, cooking classes, and karaoke.
Participating adult teachers are adoptees 21 years of age and older who are carefully selected and trained by Spence-Chapin. Many of the mentors have been in the program for several years, with some starting out as teenage mentees themselves. Teachers understand the importance of their role and truly value their time with teenagers, their experience as teachers helps to carve their own identities as adopted adults.
For parents of adopted children, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to advocate for your child or to help them form their identity. Because of that, Spence-Chapin also offers a parent group similar to the Mentorship Program, where adoptive parents can connect in conversations led by experienced Spence-Chapin staff and clinicians. as well as teachers participating in the program. Parents have a space to discuss their experiences raising their teenagers, while also creating a community for themselves with adoptive parents who “got it too.” Families whose children meet through Mentorship or who attend a parent group, stay connected in meaningful ways long into their children’s upbringing.
“We met while our children were participating in the Mentorship program. Over the years our families attended events together…we even traveled together. Our boys are coming of age and although there are different adoption stories the boys are connected. Even though our kids have aged out of the Mentorship program…we text often and stay connected and see each other at least once a year for birthdays! This is truly a godsend for members of the adoption community to connect with. ” – Irene, Adoptive parent.
Registration for our Mentorship Program is now open for the Spring Semester! To learn more about Spence-Chapin’s Junior and Teen Mentorship Programs, and to register for this upcoming semester, please visit HERE.