When Marc met Jacob as his mentor through AASK (Aid to Adoption of Special Kids), he could instantly see that Jacob's life had been less than easy. Having entered care at a young age, Jacob was placed in several different care situations, and none of them seemed to be the right fit. To Marc, Jacob looked like a kid who needed a safe space to land. Having been in and out of each other's lives over the course of several years, something kept bringing Marc and Jacob back together.
One pivotal day, when Jacob was 15 he found himself in a situation that wasn’t ideal for him any longer and tracked down Marc’s phone number. After a conversation and some back and forth, it was decided that the best place for Jacob to progress would be with Marc.
Marc wasn’t prepared to take in a teenager, but he wanted Jacob to get on the right path. Marc’s wife had passed away years ago and his children were grown; he felt a pull to Jacob and understood that sometimes kids just need a chance. Marc decided to give Jacob that chance and moved him into his home. Marc knew that Jacob needed warmth and nurturing and someone who wouldn’t give up on him.
As with any child coming out of care, things weren’t immediately easy. There have been ups and downs in the relationship between Marc and Jacob, but Marc is still that constant that Jacob needs in his life. Marc has made every effort to help Jacob become a stable and well-rounded kid and has seen positive improvement in many areas of Jacob’s life. And Jacob has made every effort to make this relationship work and kept all his commitments to Marc.
Marc has also helped to guide Jacob’s relationship with his biological family. He started with his biological grandparents and has since grown relationships with his biological mother and sister. As Marc says, “I let Jacob lead the relationship with his family and determine how he wants to show up there.”
In addition to working on his relationship with his family, Jacob turned things around in school, and Marc has seen him begin to take an interest and improve in his grades. Jacob willingly participates in classes now and Marc gets feedback that he is engaged and motivated. He manages his own finances, and with Marc’s help has begun to understand what it means to have money and how to use it. Jacob mostly uses it on gifts for his family.
Marc will tell you that adopting a teenager is not without challenges, but the payoff is getting to see these kids thrive. There is a misconception that teens in care are difficult to work with, most just carry a lot of baggage from previous situations, but they really want care and attention and for someone to see them for who they are. They just need a chance. As Marc puts it, “It’s like taking a wildcat home. It will take a lot of work to gain their trust and their love.”
Marc also believes that patience is key and it takes a lot of time to get them to the point where they trust you. “You need to want to help them get on a better path. Don’t have a grand expectation of return – they need adults who will care for them. The rest comes later,” says Marc. Although the journey for Marc and Jacob hasn’t been easy, the place where they are now works for both of them, and their relationship is something that has meaning on both sides. “We have preconceived ideas as parents, but the majority of these kids respond to kindness, care and understanding. And it is spectacular when they change for the better. Don’t be afraid of taking in a teen, there is so much reward in seeing them becoming great,” says Marc.