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Top Resources for Foster & Adoptive Parents of Teenagers

Updated: Jun 28

When I first started fostering and adopted my kids, I had received the training given during licensure and that's it! It took me years to figure out what to read and listen to that would help me parent my kids. I also didn't know what to get them as we prepared for them to come home. So here I've given you books, podcasts, websites, products, and spiritual support. I hope and pray that this is helpful for you!

I am an Amazon Affiliate, so many of these links will lead to me receiving commission if you choose to buy it! :)

This is the fourth and final post in a series about Welcoming Teenagers in Foster Care. Here are the other three posts:

  1. Before You Say Yes

  2. The First Few Weeks

  3. The First Few Months


What Happened to You?

What Happened to You? is a fantastic, conversation-based book that helps explain how trauma impacts the body and brain. The authors Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry go back and forth between story-telling and teaching about trauma and coping techniques. I listened to the audiobook, and I highly recommend it. (paid link)

The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog

Dr. Bruce Perry has experience researching and working with people who have experienced childhood trauma, and he combines his experience and research beautifully in this book. He weaves important information into the stories he tells about his work, and it is compelling. He explains trauma in such a way that it can be easily comprehended. (paid link)

Brain-Body Parenting

Mona Delahooke combines information about regulation and stress responses with her personal experience as both a parent and a clinical psychologist. She helps parents understand behavior and to view it as our children's way of communicating with us. (paid link)

The Power of Showing Up

In The Power of Showing Up, Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson explain the immense importance of simply showing up for our kids. We do not have to be perfect parents; we have to be present ones. They give helpful advice for what this could look like day to day, but they also back up their advice with research. (paid link)

Attaching in Adoption

Attaching in Adoption is an older book, written in 2002, but it provides us with a wealth of knowledge about attachment. The most helpful part of this book for me was seeing attachment in light of developmental stages. It helped me to identify where my kids are in the attachment process and think about ways I could implement better attachment with them in order to move on to the next developmental stage. Even if you only foster, she gives helpful information that helps us understand behavior through an attachment lens. (paid link)

The Connected Parent

Dr. Karyn Purvis and Lisa Qualls are key voices in the foster care and adoption world. In this book, they provide helpful and practical tools for facing particular behaviors. One of my favorite parts about this book is the scripts it provides for different situations. (paid link)

The Connected Child

The Connected Child was Karyn Purvis's first book about children who have experienced trauma. She gives some basic information about trauma and a parent's necessary response to trauma behaviors. She also is the founder of the parenting method that is called TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention). (paid link)

Reclaim Compassion

I love Melissa Corkum and Lisa Qualls! They are true, genuine, loving people with lots of experience in the foster care and adoption world. I am only on chapter 2 of this book, but just the first two chapters are important for every foster and adoptive parent. They explain blocked care and give helpful strategies for overcoming it. (paid link)

Raising Kids with Big, Baffling Behaviors

I recently found Robyn Gobbel, and I'm so glad I did! Her book doesn't come out until September, but I would recommend pre-ordering it. She explains stress responses and trauma in a way that is easily understood for someone who does not have a scientific background. Her understanding of the brain is incredible. I also list her podcast below as a resource. (paid link)

The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score is another helpful book for understanding trauma and its impact on the body and brain. This book is a bit more technical (and it's very long), but it does weave in stories throughout. (paid link)


Parenting After Trauma

This is Robyn Gobbel's podcast, who wrote Raising Kids with Big, Baffling Behaviors. She dives into specific topics and scenarios a parent might run into when parenting kids who have experienced trauma. She explains what is going on in the brain and also gives helpful tools for handling these situations.

The Adoption Connection

This is Lisa Qualls's and Melissa Corkum's podcast. They do a fantastic job of storytelling, interviewing, and telling their own personal experience. Lisa is a former foster youth, adoptive mother, and birth mother. Melissa is an adoptee and an adoptive mother. They have so much knowledge and experience to share, and the podcast is very well-done.

The Archibald Project

I have been a long-time follower of the Archibald Project. They are more storytellers, but sometimes that is a good break from getting lots of different advice. They tell stories about ethical orphan care (globally) but also about reunification and fostering older kids and teenagers.

The TBRI Podcast

If you want a crash course in TBRI, this is your place to go! They go through the key components of TBRI (Trust-based relational intervention) and give practical tips on how to use these techniques and strategies in different contexts (teaching, parenting, caregiving, etc.)


Straws (paid link)

If you check out my post called Emotional Regulation with Teenagers, you will see that one of my go-to strategies for co-regulating with an older child or teenager is to bring them chocolate milk with a straw. Breathing through a straw can be emotionally regulating. I make myself one too! If they refuse to accept, I start blowing bubbles into the milk and commenting on how weird they look. It sounds bizarre, but it totally works. If you want to be more environmentally conscious, check out these metal straws with a.silicone tip. (paid link)

Chocolate Sauce (paid link)

Obviously need chocolate sauce to make the aforementioned chocolate milk :)

Fruit Snacks (paid link)

Fruit snacks are another emotional regulation tool I use. They're chewy, and most kids love them. It can bring their blood sugar up a bit if they are down in the dumps.

Goldfish or Pretzels or Popcorn (paid links)

A crunchy snack can do loads of good for someone who is angry. Think of it like eating version of punching a punching bag. You can read more about it here.

Hot chocolate (paid link)

Hot chocolate is a cozy drink that can help a person feel safe and warm. If a teenager seems to be having a stress response (fighting, freezing, fleeing, or fawning; you can read more about that here), hot chocolate is a way to bring their brains and bodies back to safety.

Fidget Toys (paid link)

Fidget toys are fantastic to have on hand for car rides. When someone is able to use their hands and fidget with something, it is more likely that he will participate in conversation. This is also helpful for regulation, as it can encourage play and promote felt safety.

Drawing/art supplies (paid link)

Drawing and art are ways of expression, and teenagers need to have alternatives to express themselves. Talking, especially when trauma is involved, is difficult to do when you don't have an explicit memory but rather an implicit one. Your body is telling you that you are not safe, but your brain not even recognize why or when you didn't feel safe in the past. Drawing helps. It also promotes creativity and individuality.

Sketchbook (paid link)

This goes with the above product :)

Comfy blankets/socks/pillows (paid link)

All teenagers love to be wrapped in comfy clothes and blankets, but teens who have experienced trauma need an extra dose of comfort. Consider providing them with each of these in their welcome basket. It is an easy way to communicate safety.

Google Mini or Alexa (or sound machine)(paid links - Alexa and sound machine)

Our Google Minis have been so fun in our home! We use these for alarms because we all plug in our phones in the kitchen at night. We also can use them to broadcast funny messages throughout the house, play music, and find new jokes. It's a great way to lighten the mood if things feel down in the dumps. Our kids also will sometimes use it as a sound machine. Another way to communicate safety.

Basketball or other sports (paid link)

Sports can be incredibly regulating. It involves movement and rhythm and promotes play at the same time. Invest in having outdoor games!

Trampoline (if you can) (paid link)

Some foster care agencies will not allow trampolines at the home for safety reasons. But jumping on a trampoline can also be regulating because of the rhythm and movement.


Scribd has been our favorite tool for reading and listening to books! When my daughter first came to us, car rides were very awkward. We listened to audiobooks on the way to school as a way to connect and laugh every morning. It is a precious memory. You can read more about that here.


YNAB is a budgeting tool that you have to pay for, but it is worth it! You can use it yourself and then add any family members who want to use it. It's great for building the budgeting life skill that is necessary for when they launch into the world!


Social Workers Toolbox Downloads

I cannot tell you how helpful these downloads are. If you do nothing else from this blog post, please, PLEASE download these! They are so helpful in understanding what trauma looks like at home and at school, how kids are feeling when they are experiencing different stress responses, and possible ways of responding.

Big Life Journal

Big Life Journal is a fantastic resource for kids and teenagers to reflect on their dreams, emotions, and goals. They have printouts, coloring pages, and books. These are great summer activities.

Spiritual Support

Rebuild and Restore

This is a devotional based off of Isaiah 58. I found Isaiah 58 at the height of our chaos when our kids came home, and it was extremely life-giving to me. I wanted other people to know how wonderful and encouraging this chapter of the Bible is, so I wrote this devotional. It's an 8-day devotional, and there is a PDF version and a physical version you can buy!

Foster the Family

I have not read this book, but I appreciate Jamie Finn's focus on the Gospel as she parents her children. She has lots of experience as a foster and adoptive parent, and she particularly focuses on what it looks like to support families and reunification. (paid link)

Habits of the Household

I just read this book and found the reminders extremely helpful. Justin Earley goes into detail about different times of the day with our kids and how we can best utilize those times to point them (and ourselves) back to Jesus.

At Home with Sally Podcast

I just love Sally Clarkson. I have listened to some of her books as well, and they are fantastic. I glean much wisdom from her as a mother. Though she does not talk at all about trauma, she has fun ideas about how to create magic and safety in the home. She also homeschooled her kids, so if that is a route you are considering, she is worth a follow!

If you are in need of some more one-on-one coaching in order to learn how to manage difficult behaviors in your home, managing relationships with biological family, or starting trauma-informed ministries, I can help! I offer coaching for foster and adoptive parents, ministry leaders, and teachers. Click below to learn more!

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