Should I Adopt a Child with “Special Needs”?

Are you ready to adopt a child with special needs? Help for parents.

special needs adoption

Social workers use the terms “special needs,” “hard to place,” and “waiting” interchangeably. The meaning depends on the worker, the agency, and the pool of children they have available.

In general, special needs refers to children with physical or psychological issues along a spectrum, from a risk of ADHD to a missing limb. But it can also mean a perfectly healthy toddler (at an agency where parents are looking for infants), it can mean a healthy baby boy (when parents are requesting girls), or it can mean a child who’s not white (at an agency with mostly white adoptive families). Children can move from “not special needs” into the special needs category if they are taking longer to find families than their agency’s average. The child didn’t change, just the waiting list.

If you hear any of these terms in the course of your adoption, make sure you know exactly what the speaker means. A reputable agency or attorney will send you a list of all the possible complications a child can suffer, from minor and correctable to lifelong. No one should pressure you to accept a child with needs you can’t meet.

Peg Studaker, supervisor of the Waiting International Child Program at Children’s Home Society and Family Services, in Minnesota, says: “Parenting children with special needs should be a family’s first choice. Adopting a special-needs child should never be a second choice because the family could not get the child they really wanted to parent.”

Lois Melina, an internationally recognized authority on adoptive parenting, says: “Prospective adoptive parents have more choices than biological parents do. We can choose the child’s birth culture, sex, race, and physical and mental health conditions. Even if human cloning one day does become a viable option, the cloned child will inherit the entire genetic package of her nuclear parent—the acne will accompany the academic ability.

This choice places a huge burden on us—not to justify it, but to be clear in our own hearts about why we value the choice, and what it will mean to us if, somehow, it leads to a different outcome than we imagined. We must be very careful, during the months or years that we wait to become parents, that we do not allow our imaginings to become fixed, to become expectations.

We can’t control whether our children interpret a choice we make about them as a gift or an obligation. However, we are responsible for checking in with our own hearts, to be sure that we recognize what is important—helping our children learn how to find true north, even though they will choose their own journeys to that point. And as long as our children are pointed in the right direction, we have done our jobs as parents.”




FREE WEEKLY DIGEST
Get the latest news, information, and essays from Adoptive Families magazine.


Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
Please provide a valid email address.
Thank you for subscribing to the Adoptive Families newsletter. You will receive your first email within the next week.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Please fill in the required fields.

Adoption Agencies

Bethany Christian Services
Grand Rapids, MI
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Adoption by Shepherd Care
Hollywood, FL
U.S. Newborn, International
Family Life Services Adoption Agency
Lynchburg, VA
U.S. Newborn
ALL STATES
ALL STATES
Gladney Center for Adoption
Fort Worth, TX
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Children’s Connections, Inc.
Lubbock, TX
U.S. Newborn
TX
Abrazo Adoption Associates
San Antonio, TX
U.S. Newborn, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Family Law Company “Magistr”
Kolomyia, NY
International
AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Spence-Chapin Services to Children & Families
New York, NY
U.S. Newborn, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Building Blocks Adoption Service
Medina, OH
U.S. Newborn, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Bal Jagat- Children’s World Inc.
Long Beach, CA
International
Children’s Home Society & Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
Saint Paul, MN
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Family & Children’s Agency, Inc.
Norwalk, CT
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
The Barker Adoption Foundation
Bethesda, MD
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Morton, IL
U.S. Newborn
Caring for Kids, Inc.
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster
Page 1 of 3123

See all adoption agencies >


Copyright © 1999-2019 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this

Newsletter

Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
Please provide a valid email address.
Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Please fill in the required fields.
Top