When you make the decision to become adoptive parents, there are lots of options to consider. When you have selected your agency, one of the first discussions you’ll have is whether or not you’re interested in ‘special needs adoption’ — but what does this mean? How do you know if this is the right option for you? In this article we’ll be helping you to answer both of these questions.
What is Special Needs Adoption?
Special needs adoption is used to describe any type of adoption involving a child that has extra physical, emotional, or mental needs, be this disorders, diseases, disabilities, or syndromes. This can also include children who have experienced neglect or abuse, or have had prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol. Common types of special needs adoption include children with:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cleft lip or palate
- Down Syndrome
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Reactive Attachment Disorder
- Spina Bifida
How does the Process Differ From Standard Adoption?
Largely, special needs adoption is similar to standard adoption. You’ll still need to complete a home study and much of the same paperwork as those adopting a child without special needs.
The main differences come in the considerations the adoptive parents need to make when choosing the type of special needs children they’d be willing to adopt. Some prospective parents may think they’d struggle with a child with extreme anger, while others may not have a home suited to a child who uses a wheelchair. These considerations need to be made when filling out the Medical Conditions Checklist (MCC) that your agency will provide you with. Make sure to really consider what options you’ll select and assess whether you feel you’d be able to parent a child with each type of need. Some research in this time will be helpful.
When connected with a child, you’ll need to review their referral, preferably with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to answer your questions regarding caring for and parenting the child in question.
Is Special Needs Adoption for You?
Being the adoptive parents of a special needs child can be incredibly rewarding. However, it isn’t for everyone, and that is ok. When considering special needs adoption various factors need to be addressed. Important considerations include:
- You and your partner’s age (Will you be able to shoulder the extra parenting demands?)
- Your finances (Will you be able to afford any required medical equipment or therapies?)
- Your home (Is your home accessible to those with physical difficulties?)
- Your location (Are you a reasonable distance to relevant specialists and facilities?)
- Other children (Do you have other children? Would you be able to give your existing child the love and care they deserve as well as a new addition?)
- What types of special needs would you be able to cater to?
As we mentioned, special needs adoption takes a special kind of parent(s). Where some parent(s) are able to give a healthy child a loving home and incredible upbringing, they may be unable to raise a child with special needs. Put simply, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you come to the decision that special needs adoption isn’t the right choice for you.