Page One.

“Mom, do you think of me as your adopted daughter?”

I pulled out of the pick-up lane as my 13-year-old daughter buckled up for the ride home from school. The question seemed to come out of nowhere, but I shouldn’t have been surprised.

“Honey, I think of you as my daughter. Period. When I look at you, I don’t see the physical differences between us, I only see my beautiful daughter. I don’t introduce you as my adopted daughter, just as my daughter.”

She seemed momentarily satisfied with the answer and settled into the car seat. I prayed for the subject to change, and she reached for the volume nob.

But the fact remains that my daughter, and her sister, are both adopted. With all the typical stresses and pressures of adolescence, theirs include issues surrounding their adoption, their identity, and the color of their skin. Add to that diagnoses of anxiety, OCD, and ADHD, and you’ve got one tumultuous parenting journey full of times of overwhelming hardship and sweet moments. And I’m thankful for every single second of it because even when it’s loud and ugly and just plain hurts, we know we’re right where we need to be and that we’re in the family God chose for us.

And we’re not alone. The numbers aren’t exact and are difficult to pin down. The POV documentary Off and Running reported in 2010 that around 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year (domestic, foster care, and international).  (According to the U.S. Department of State, American families adopted 261,728 children from other countries between 1999 and 2015; that number includes all age groups.) Now, stay with me, here, we don’t know at what ages these children are being adopted, but if we assume that 3/4 of these children are adopted as infants/toddlers, we can guesstimate that in the U.S. we have approximately 700,000 children adopted between 2001-2007 who are now in their teen years. Think of it, nearly three quarters of a million families with adopted teens. God be with us.

Maybe you’re one of them. And maybe you’re among the 1 in 4 parents raising a teenager that struggles with anxiety. Maybe you’re a step-parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or friend of an adopted and anxious teen. If you are any of these, this blog-to-book project is being written for you. My heart’s desire is to serve you and others like you by sharing our story of how we’re navigating this season of our parenting journey. My prayer is that it gives you encouragement, insight, validation, and comfort knowing that you’re not alone. Join me, won’t you?

Up Next: Whose Kids Are These?