Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, officially recognized in 1987 by former President Ronald Regan, aims to increase awareness about Americans living with developmental disabilities. At Considering Adoption, it’s also an opportunity to spread awareness about the many opportunities and resources that exist for special needs adoptions.
In honor of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we’ve compiled a list of the most important things to know about special needs adoption for hopeful adoptive families and prospective birth mothers to help spread awareness about this amazing opportunity. For more resources, you can always ask your adoption professional for additional information.
What You Should Know About Special Needs Adoption
There are plenty of adoptive families and prospective birth mothers who are curious about adopting or placing a child with developmental disabilities or other special needs, but don’t exactly know where to start.
A special needs adoption will come with its own set of challenges, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be rewarding. If you’re considering a special needs adoption as an adoptive family, it’s helpful to learn more about the experience from others who have lived it, and to reach out to an adoption professional for support.
Another thing worth mentioning: in adoption, the definition of “special needs” can vary. Although most people imagine that a child with special needs will have mental, emotional, or physical disabilities, this isn’t always the case. In fact, a child can be considered special needs if they’re an older child, part of a sibling group, have a medical condition, have a history of abuse or neglect, or from a specific ethnic background. Before moving forward with a special needs adoption, you should think about what exactly you’re open to.
Adopting a Child with Special Needs
If you’re a prospective adoptive family, you’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to your preferences for an adopted child. One of those choices will be deciding if you’re ready to raise a child with special needs. Of course, your personal experiences with special needs adoption will depend upon the child you plan to adopt. Before committing to a special needs adoption, here are some questions that you should think about for a self‐assessment:
- Do I have the right resources for a special needs adoption?
- Do I have the support of my family and friends?
- Am I ready to be flexible to meet the needs of my child?
- Am I ready to always put my child’s needs first?
- Do I live close to medical care, and do I have good health insurance?
- Am I doing this because I want to love and cherish a child, not because I want to “save” them?
We hope that these questions don’t scare you off from pursuing a special needs adoption. When it comes to this type of adoption, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Adopting a special needs child is a life‐long commitment, and you may want to think twice if you’re feeling uncertain. We can’t promise you that a special needs adoption will always be easy, but this is an extremely rewarding route for many families if you are considering it.
How to Place a Special Needs Child for Adoption
When you’re a woman considering adoption, it can be stressful and overwhelming to think about placing your baby up for adoption when they have special needs. You might be thinking, “Will I be able to find an adoptive family who wants to adopt a special needs child?” and “Will an adoptive family be able provide everything they’ll need as they grow up?” Adoption is just as much of a possibility for you as it is for any woman. You will absolutely be able to find supportive adoptive parents who will love your child just as much as you do.
Your adoption professional will work with you to find the perfect family, help you create the perfect adoption plan, and will be by your side from beginning to end. This decision will be extremely personal and emotional, so you’ll absolutely need a strong support system by your side. You can always lean on your adoption specialist, as well as your family and friends, for guidance. Always remember, choosing adoption for your baby is not “giving up.” Your decision for your baby simply means that you’re making the brave and selfless choice to find a family who can provide your child with all of the love and support they’ll need.
If you are considering adoption for your baby, there are several professionals who specialize in the placement of special needs children, such as:
Preparing for a Special Needs Adoption
Whether you are a prospective birth mother or a hopeful adoptive family, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is a great time to familiarize yourself with the special needs adoption options that are available to you. If you are interested in pursuing a special needs adoption, this can be an amazing and life-changing journey. As with all other types of adoptions, the best place to start is by contacting an adoption professional.