When you’re a prospective adoptive parent, you have a lot of choices to make when it comes to your adoption preferences. One of the decisions you’ll make regarding your adopted child is whether or not they have special needs.
An adopted child with special needs doesn’t always fit the definition of special needs we’re familiar with (for example, physical or mental disabilities). In general, if a child is labeled “special needs,” it means they are less likely to get adopted for one reason or another.
If you’re considering adoption, you might want to learn more about special needs adoption. While it may come with some unique challenges, it will also provide some wonderful rewards, as well.
Here’s what you should know before moving forward with a special needs adoption.
1. What Constitutes “Special Needs”
When we think “special needs,” we usually think of children with mental, emotional or physical challenges. While these certainly apply to adopted children with special needs, a child may also be considered to have special needs if he or she is:
- an older child
- part of a sibling group
- a child of a certain racial background
Whether a child is defined as “special needs” or not will depend upon the qualifications and regulations of the state they’re being adopted from.
2. The Benefits of a Special Needs Adoption
A special needs adoption will have challenges, but it can also bring benefits to prospective adoptive parents. For example, if you are open to adopting a child with special needs, you will usually wait shorter for a placement because there will be a greater number of potential adoption opportunities available to you.
In addition, a special needs adoption may not be as difficult as it seems. In international adoptions, medical conditions that are difficult to treat in the child’s home country may be simple and covered by the adoptive parents’ insurance in the United States (for example, a baby born with a cleft palate). In some cases, adoptive parents can even receive financial assistance for adopting a special needs child from foster care, usually in the form of a monthly subsidy.
3. Resources for a Special Needs Adoption
Obviously, how challenging a special needs adoption is will depend upon the types of needs the adopted child has. Fortunately, there are many resources available to not only help adoptive parents prepare for their special needs adoption but also to cope with the challenges that come with raising a special needs child, however severe their condition.
If you’re interested in a special needs adoption, there are several adoption professionals who specialize in this kind of adoption:
Remember, you will have the ability to choose what degree of special needs you feel your family can meet. Your adoption professional will be able to prepare you for your special needs adoption (especially if you adopt through the foster care system), but you may also want to connect with support groups for children with special needs. This way, you can learn more about the challenges awaiting you and, as your child grows up, have a support system to turn to for help in your unique situation.
Special needs adoptions are not always easy, and it’s important to understand exactly what your adoption will involve if you take this route. However, for those adoptive parents who do choose to adopt a special needs child, they will tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way.