Is Special Needs Adoption Right for Your Family?
In California and around the world, there are many special needs children waiting to be adopted by dedicated, loving families. While these children may have varying physical, developmental, emotional or medical needs, their greatest need is always the same: a stable, loving home with committed parents.
If you are considering special needs adoption, read on to learn more about your options and the services FCCA can offer to help.
Adopting a Child with Special Needs
Many options are available to hopeful parents who are interested in special needs adoption. Whether you are adopting an infant, a child from the foster system, or a child born in another country, there is always a need for loving families to open their hearts and homes to these children.
Adopt a Special Needs Child from Foster Care
The term “special needs” applies to most children in the California foster care system — but this label can be misleading. In foster care, special needs can refer to any of the following:
- Older children
- Children with certain racial or ethnic backgrounds
- Children who are part of a sibling group
- Children with varying medical, physical, mental or emotional needs
The waiting children available through our fos-adopt program range in age from infants to teenagers, come from a variety of different backgrounds, and have a variety of different needs. FCCA provides extensive adoption preparation training to help you understand the physical and emotional needs of children adopted from foster care.
California children who qualify as “special needs” are eligible to receive monthly adoption subsidies and MediCal coverage through the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) until they turn 18. When your adoption is ready to be finalized, FCCA will assist your family with applying for AAP through the child’s placing county.
Adopt a Special Needs Child Internationally
Children waiting to be adopted in international orphanages often also have special needs. In some cases, it is difficult to obtain the full medical histories of these children due to limited access to birth parent information. Depending on the country you are adopting from and the types of needs you are open to, adopting a special needs child may speed up the referral process since there are fewer families waiting to adopt these children.
In addition to physical, medical and developmental needs, many children adopted internationally face emotional and bonding challenges, such as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Any hopeful parent adopting overseas should be prepared for the possibility that their child may develop these types of special needs.
Some international adoption programs, including FCCA’s Hong Kong adoption program, focus exclusively on the placement of special needs children. The waiting children in this program range in age from 2-8 years old, and many have Down syndrome. If you are interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome or other significant special needs, please contact us to learn more about our Hong Kong adoption program.
Adopt an Infant with Special Needs
While many domestic infant adoption programs focus on the placement of healthy newborns, there is always a need for families who are interested in adopting babies with special needs. Families who are open to a variety of adoption situations, including special needs, may have a shorter adoption wait time.
Considerations for Families Adopting a Special Needs Child
Adopting and parenting a child with special needs can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. However, before you decide whether to proceed with special needs adoption, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:
- Keep an open mind. Many families think of severe physical, medical or developmental challenges when they hear the phrase “special needs.” However, this is a broad term; many special needs are entirely manageable by “regular” people. Do thorough research and read about other families’ experiences before ruling out special needs adoption.
- Be honest about your capabilities. As you learn about different types of special needs, decide as a family which challenges you feel equipped to handle. Ask yourselves whether you can provide the time, effort and specialized care required by certain types of special needs, and do what you can to prepare yourself to meet those needs. For example, if you are considering adopting a deaf child, you may wish to start learning American Sign Language.
- Find a community. Adopting and parenting a special needs child can be overwhelming at times. For that reason, it is important to have a support system of other families who understand the unique joys and challenges you are facing. Consider joining an online support group, and search for resources and organizations that are dedicated to families like yours.
As you consider the types of adoption opportunities that are right for your family, continue to learn about special needs adoption and the challenges and rewards it can offer. If you are interested in adopting a special needs child, FCCA can provide the information and services you need to get started. Contact an office near you or attend a free informational session to learn more.