Adopting a Child with Special Needs: Practical Tips and Resources

Baby holding adoptive parents finger

Every child is beautiful and unique in their own way, and children with special needs are no exception. As you go through the adoption process, you may be considering the possibility of adopting a child with special needs. This means adopting a child who has physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning difficulties that require special accommodations and/or an additional level of care. If you are open to the possibility of adopting a child with special needs, read on for practical tips and resources as you navigate the adoption process. 

Special Needs Adoption & the Home Study

During your home study, your social worker will work with you to determine what medical conditions you and your family are open to. Be sure to bring up any specific questions or concerns you may have on this subject. While it may feel uncomfortable to sit down and tangibly decide this, the purpose is to ensure that a child with special needs is placed with a family who can adequately care for them. In fact, depending on the circumstances, some prospective adoptive parents must be specifically approved to adopt a special needs child as part of the home study process.

All that being said, there is nothing wrong with determining that there are certain conditions your family is not open to. It is healthy and responsible to be realistic with yourself and set these boundaries, but it is also for the benefit of the child. 

Questions to Ask Yourself before Pursuing Special Needs Adoption

As you consider the possibility of adopting a child with special needs, there are some questions you should ask yourself. Here are a few sample questions to start with:

  • What disabilities are you equipped, willing, and prepared to handle? 
  • What does your support system look like? Do you have people in your life you can rely on to support you in this important decision and all that comes with it?
  • Does the school district you live in offer support for children with special needs? If they don’t, are you willing to relocate to a district that does?
  • Will your child have access to adequate healthcare and facilities in your area? If not, are you willing to relocate or travel to health facilities where your child can receive the proper care?
  • Will your insurance cover any of your child’s conditions and needs? If not, how will you handle paying for any level of care that is not covered? 

Do Your Research 

If you’re a prospective adoptive parent, you’re likely already researching the adoption process. However, if you are considering adopting a child with special needs, you will need to do further research in order to understand how the adoption process may differ and the challenges you may face as the adoptive parent of a special needs child. A good place to start is researching the specific conditions included in your home study. You’ll want to determine what lifelong care looks like for specific situations and what other parents have experienced as they raised children with that condition. Adopting a child with special needs is something you will want to be as prepared for as possible.

Consider Your Finances  

A critical aspect of considering adopting a special needs child is understanding that depending on their condition, their care could be expensive, particularly if they have any conditions that are not covered by your insurance. Before engaging with the idea of adopting a special needs child, you should sit down and determine if it’s financially feasible for your family to do this. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in a situation down the line where you are inadvertently having trouble caring for your child financially. 

With that being said, there is an abundance of support available for children with special needs through the government, like subsidies, early intervention programs, and more. is a great place to start when researching services and support for children with special needs. Programs, benefits, and subsidies can vary by state and county, so narrowing down your research to your specific area will help you find what options are available to you.

Establish a Good Support System 

Every adoptive family needs a support system they can lean on as they are going through the adoption process, both after a child has been placed with them, and as their child grows up. For adoptive parents with special needs children, it is even more important to have a solid support system they can rely on. 

As you embark on this journey, you may find yourself needing more support than ever before, so having dependable friends and family ensures that you are not raising your child alone and also that your needs are being taken care of. In this case, an aspect of your support system should be other families who are caring for special needs children who can relate to the challenges and joys you will experience. 

Resources for Prospective Adoptive Parents 

There is an abundance of resources available for prospective adoptive parents who are considering adopting a child with special needs and those who have already made this important decision. 

Resources exist in the form of supportive online communities, books, podcasts, and academic articles. Any of these resources can help parents understand the scope of raising a child with special needs and hear stories from other families who are in similar situations. 

Here are some resources to get you started: 

Consider the Birthmother 

When it comes to domestic infant adoption, once you have connected with a birthmother of a child with special needs, it is important that you are absolutely certain you are willing to take this path. If you decide you’re uncomfortable with this path after developing a relationship with her, she will have to find a new adoptive family and start all over at building a relationship with them. This will make her situation even more difficult and stressful than it already is. Not only that, but that kind of rejection from a prospective adoptive family often results in a birthmother second guessing her decisions and can cast doubt on her adoption plans. For those reasons, if you are open to adopting a child with special needs, we highly recommend preparing yourself as much as possible for the possibilities so that if and when an opportunity comes your way, you can be open to it and ready to embrace it.

Only you can decide if adopting a child with special needs is right for you and your family. In this case, the most important thing to consider is if you are capable, willing, and prepared to raise a child with special needs in the supportive and loving environment that they deserve.

Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2024

Angel Adoption, Inc. provides marketing and advertising services that assist biological parents considering adoption and prospective adoptive parents to connect with each other, and provides support and referral services throughout the process. Angel Adoption, Inc. is an independent contractor and provides services under the supervision of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, License #012998, One Oakbrook Terrace, #501, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181; 708-771-7180.