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Currently there are more than 104,000 children waiting to be adopted from the U.S. foster care system. Teens are over represented within this population, and they need your help. 

Paige Dickey’s life was transformed after she met a 13-year-old named Brittany. At the time, she and her husband Travis already had two kids. But they decided they had room for one more. Paige and Travis adopted Brittany in 2011, and together, they opened the next chapter of their lives.

In a new video and blog post developed for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council’s Adoption from Foster Care campaign, Paige explains how she decided to adopt a teenage daughter.

My Life with Brittany 

How I became a “perfect” parent to a teen

By Paige Dickey

Two and a half years ago, an extraordinary young woman entered my life. When I first met Brittany she was 13 years old. It was clear that she had great potential, but she hadn’t received enough love. She got along with my two sons, and we could tell that she would make a great big sister.

My husband Travis and I decided to adopt a teenager because we wanted to give back. We wanted to provide a child with a loving home and a supportive environment for the rest of his or her life. We’re not super wealthy or a perfect family, but I’m a pretty good mom, so I thought that it was something I could do.  

I spent weeks on the AdoptUSKids web site looking for the right addition to our family. Since we already had two young boys, we thought it might be good to have a girl and in a different age category. Travis joked that if we adopted a teen, at least we would know who we were getting; her personality would already be formed.

When we first adopted Brittany, she certainly had a lot of personality, but at the same time, she had a lot of room to grow. She was just about to start 7th grade and was probably on about a 4th grade level academically. We got her tutors, and her dad worked with her a lot. She worked hard in 8th grade too, and when she went to high school she was recommended for honors Biology and honors Math. 

Watch Paige Dickey’s video about her experience adopting a teenage from foster care:

You may think that you can only experience milestones when you adopt babies and toddlers, but that’s not true. Brittany was a tomboy when she first came to live with us. Since then, she’s made the cheerleading team and won Miss Congeniality. There have been so many other “firsts” we’ve shared: Brittany’s first hair highlighting, her first school dance, first kiss, first date (parent chaperoned, of course), first day of high school, first high heels, first back hand-spring, and first time crying tears with a parent there to provide comfort.

We’ve had some challenges with Brittany, of course, but nothing outside the ordinary in raising a teenage girl. As moms we generally think that our parenting is flawless, but at times we can be so off-the-mark—like the time I didn’t believe Brittany when she told me she was recommended for 10th grade honors English!

You see, Brittany always said she couldn’t stand to read. So when she came home from school and said she was recommended for honors English, at first I thought she was pulling my leg! I soon discovered that, in fact, Brittany had made great progress in her English class, and I should never have doubted it for a minute. She’s an amazing kid who’s worked extremely hard to catch up. Her potential seems to know no bounds. 

About Paige Dickey

The Dickey family is a Caucasian, two-parent household. The Dickeys have three children;Brittany(15), Walker (10), and Conner (8).Brittanywas placed with the Dickey family in September 2010 and the adoption was finalized in April 2011.   

*“You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” is the slogan of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council’s multimedia public service advertising (PSAs) campaign that encourages the adoption of children from foster care. PSA’s have been developed with a specific annual focus, including teens, preteens, Spanish language, African-Americans, sibling groups, and children 8 and older.  

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