Gianna is an awesome young woman with untapped potential and a personality that draws people to her. She is bright, articulate, charming and very engaging. In the past, her social workers have all commented on how much they like her and want to see her do well. There is something about Gianna that just draws people to her! She has a hilarious sense of humor and can be incredibly insightful. Her interests include her friends, shopping, her friends, her phone, her friends, and socializing (humor intended). Social life is important to Gianna and it is critical that she is able to maintain relationships. Privileges like having a cell phone, earning spending money/allowance, extras when she gets her hair done, having contacts rather than glasses, more name-brand instead of basic clothes are all things she would like to have access to. Other issues of importance are that families are willing to do some negotiation about rules such as curfew. Gianna appreciates clear rules, consequences, expectations and boundaries. Also, it helps her if consequences are consistent yet gently enforced.
Gianna is nervous about adoption and is skeptical that a family would be interested in adopting a 17-year-old. She has experienced a lot of broken promises and does not easily give her trust to adults. At the same time, it is clear that a loving, gentle, consistent relationship with a parent who accepts her will be critical to her future. She needs a couple or an adoptive mom who will be there for her through the good times and the not-so-good times. With such a family, Gianna is ready to move forward to new beginnings.
Being willing to participate with Gianna in counseling during her transition into her new adoptive home would be a wonderful way for her adoptive parent(s) to show their love and commitment; however, be forewarned that she may be resistant to this recommendation. She may test a family’s commitment. Gianna needs to hear from her family of their unwavering, unconditional “promise of family.” In the past, she has felt that parents are only in her life for their foster care payment. In an adoptive family setting, she needs to be reminded that commitment is unconditional and unpaid, but there are still rules and expectations that have consequences. Also, Gianna has relationships with adults who have been a part of her life. It is important that these relationships are respected and that contact with these individuals is never used as leverage for behavior.
Although Gianna has been used to an authoritarian approach to parenting in her previous adoptive home, she could benefit immensely from having parent(s) who are willing to give her limited choices so that she can experience some appropriate level of independence and control over her everyday life. She needs parents who can disengage from disagreements and power struggles. Highly emotional disagreements and heated arguments are a big trigger for Gianna. Also, Gianna really values “positive energy” and does not want to be around people who have a negative outlook. She appreciates it when adults can sometimes just listen and hold off on the need to give advice or feedback.
Gianna is a strong, resilient young woman who sees herself as self-sufficient. What she doesn’t realize is how much people do care about her. We need a committed family who understands teens, will see her through highs and lows, and who will help her see that she is an incredible, strong woman who deserves a loving, unconditional relationship with a family.