TEEN MENTORING PROGRAMS

Building Community For Adopted Teens

 Founded in 2005, Spence-Chapin’s Mentorship are Adoptee-led and run programs for teen and tween Adoptees which meet monthly as a group with adult Adoptee Mentors. 

As Adoptees, our relationship with our identity can be more complex than for others. In our meetings, we do activities, play games, and talk about adoption, our birth families, friendships, and what it’s like to be in a home where you may not look like anyone in your family. Most importantly, we have a lot of fun! Countless friendships have been made and many Adoptees feel like they finally have a space where people “get” them. 

We understand Adoptees might be hesitant to join a group like this if they’ve never been with other adoptees before, and that’s ok, that’s true for many of us and we’re all figuring this out together. We are excited to have you join us! 

Spence-Chapin currently offers a NYC Teen Mentorship Program for Adoptees ages 11-18 that meets in person monthly, and a National Teen Mentorship Program for ages 13-18 which meets virtually once a month.  

Spence-Chapin also offers a parent group that runs parallel to the Mentorship program, where adoptive parents can connect in conversations that are led by experienced Spence-Chapin clinicians with support from adult adoptees, whether or not their child is part of the Teen Mentorship Programs. 

TESTIMONIALS

Our son participated in the Spence Chapin Mentorship Program during Middle and High Schools. We have made friends with other families in the adoption community that have lasted through the years. Having a community to turn to in difficult times, whether adoption related or not, is immeasurable. Having mentors and mentees for our son to share his adoption journey with has been nothing but positive.

~Irene and John, Former Mentorship Parents

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Mentorship Program and have many great memories from my time with Spence. I’m also still in contact with some of the friends I made during my time in the Mentorship Program. Spence has been very important to me and my family and I even supported it by collecting items for my Eagle Scout project to distribute to children waiting for their forever family.

~John, Former Mentee

This mentorship provided a safe space for me to explore my identity and be myself with full support and no explanation. There I formed strong relationships with people of all different ages and backgrounds, who were all bonded by the one thing that had previously always isolated me. This in turn fostered a confidence in me to not only recognize but take pride in the unique experience of being a transracial adoptee.

~Dana, Mentor for 9 years

FACILITATOR

Jessica M. Luciere

Jessica is a Colombian transracial Adoptee and Adoptee Advocate. She was a founding Mentor of our NYC Teen Mentorship program and now oversees all Community Programming for Spence-Chapin. Jessica’s passion for connecting with Adoptees and their families has always been the driving force in her work and is the reason she continues to create spaces for Adoptee voices.

Jessica casualphoto

Meet our Mentors

Our Mentors are Adoptees! They volunteer their time because most did not have a program like this when they were younger. Being a part of this group and hearing from their fellow Mentors and the mentees helps to sculpt their own identities as Adoptees. Mentors are passionate about the work they do in creating these open spaces for our adoptive community to connect and learn from one another.

 

We asked a few questions so you can get to know them!

  1. Where were you born?
  2. How long have you been a mentor?
  3. What do you value most about the program?
  4. What is your favorite program event?
  5. Tell us something fun about you!
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Jessica

  • Bogota, Colombia 
  • 16 years
  • Everyone who has participated in this program over the years has helped shape each other’s narrative, the mentors learn just as much from the mentees as we hope they take away from us. 
  • Adoption and Identity Dayswhen we really get to hear from each other and share our stories.  
  • I am a photojournalist and have traveled the world covering amazing stories, my dad really encouraged my love for photography
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Lilia

  • China 
  • 2 years 
  • Connecting with a community of all adoptees – from the mentees to mentors. 
  • Identity Day – Urban Word. Not only was listening to their poetry powerful, I loved hearing the poetry it inspired from the mentees. 
  • I was the Capitan of Vassar’s Varsity Fencing team having walked on my freshman year (and was chosen for my leadership skills rather than my fencing prowess…) 
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Luke

  • Bogota, Colombia
  • 1 year 
  • I feel like I am part of a community where we are all different and accepted but we all have one thing in common. It’s a wonderful feeling and great sense of belonging.
  • Identity Day & National Geographic Underwater Encounter. 
  • I love Star Wars! I have 2 dogs and 2 cats and used to coach diving and swimming. 
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Lily

  • China 
  • 2 years 
  • This program has given me something I have never had in my life before—a community full of people with similar stories and shared experiences. 
  • Our discussion about search and reunion with Nam Hotlz viewing her doc “Found in Korea”. 
  • I’ve been working on building a Greenland kayak (it’s made with fabric and a wooden frame) with my dad! 
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Andrew

  • South Korea  
  • 10 years 
  • Always learning from all the mentees and fellow mentors in how our adoption journeys make us who we are. Each of them unique and valuable  
  • Adoption Day which is also our potluck food events, & Central Park. 
  • I have an identical twin brother. Though he is not in NYC anymore still will have a random stranger be convinced they know you no matter how much one might protest I’m the Other twin. 
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Dana

  • North Carolina 
  • 6 years 
  • I was once told by a very wise teen, “my favorite thing about being adopted is that I can discard the things I dislike and keep the things I like – and that’s just who I am”.  At times, the mentees ARE the mentors. 
  • National Geographic Underwater Encounter,  painting and cooking 
  • I love a great joke, and I love to make people laugh!
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Andie

  • China 
  • 2 years 
  • No matter the age or background of the adoptee, there is a special understanding and connection that brings us together as a community! 
  • Painting at the Painting Lounge, and Identity Day with Urban Word
  • I used to be a barista for several years and learned how to make fun latte art! 
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David

  • Buffalo, New York 
  • 11 years
  • Its always interesting and exciting to meet with other adoptees and hear their stories.
  • Ice skating, karaoke, & Adoption Day 
  • I can play cello, speak Chinese pretty well, and I love to cook spicy food! 
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Sydney

  • China 
  • Mentor for 3 years, I was a mentee in this program for 2 years when I was younger 
  • I have a strong sense of community within the connections I’ve made with the mentees & mentors, I always enjoy hearing their perspective as young adoptees. 
  • Painting classes, “Found in Korea” with Nam Holtz.  
  • enjoy singing and writing songs.  
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Liz

  • New York 
  • 4 years
  • Having a supportive community like mentorship is invaluable. I feel understood in this kind environment of like-minded people.  
  • National Geographic and Identity Day. 
  • I love fashion: mixing and matching all kinds of clothes and accessories. 
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Doreen

  • New York
  • 9 years
  • I’ve met a community of people with whom I can share my thoughts, fears and emotions regarding adoption and I’m hoping my vulnerability helps the kids feel more comfortable sharing their feelings as well.
  • Outdoor activites.
  • I love to travel! 
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Rebecca

  • Paraguay 
  • 2 years 
  • Having the space to learn and grow with other adoptees of all ages has significantly helped me better understand who I am as an individual and as part of a diverse community  
  • I love going to the National Geographic under water experience. One mentee and I screamed when the giant fake whale ate us!  
  • If I wasn’t a social worker, I would have been a clown!  
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Patricia

  • Colombia 
  • 5 years 
  • Since being involved with the mentorship program, I realized how much I want to work with kids, families, and be more involved in the adoption world. I went back to school and got my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.  
  • Identity Day – Urban Word 
  • I have traveled all over the world and have been to 19 countries so far (my husband keeps count)  

Meet our Mentors

We asked our mentors:

  • Their most valuable takeaway from the Mentorship program
  • Where they were born

Testimonials

Hear from Mentors, Mentees, and Parents about their experiences in the program.

Parent Groups

Understanding the importance of community, adoptive parents are invited to participate in a separate monthly group. Topics include talking about adoptionadvocating for your child and navigating birth family searchParents whose children participate in the mentorship program are automatically enrolled. If your child is between the ages of 11 and 18 but is not participating in the program, you are welcome to join us. 

Contact us

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    To learn more email [email protected] or call 212-360-0276.

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