Often the term, “special needs” when linked to the adoption of a child, conjures up images of children handicapped by physical, mental or emotional ailments. While this is sometimes the case, “special needs adoptions” means a variety of other things depending upon the country or situation in which the child lives. For example all adoptions from China are designated as China special needs adoptions. In the US, children who might be older than an infant or who have additional siblings fit into the “special needs” category. Here are ten adoption advice tips to help you understand “special needs” adoptions.
Special needs adoptions, what are they? The term “special needs can describe several adoption categories: disabilities, race, age, sibling status, and at-risk. While there may be some medical helps and financial subsidies for “special needs” adoptions in the US, the adopting family should realize raising any child brings unexpected financial pressures.
Special needs at-risk children. Children are considered “at-risk” if they may have or are developing learning, emotional, behavior, or physical concerns such as having exposure to abuse, genetic illness, drugs, or neglect. Some agencies specialize in working with children in this category. Always ask adoption advice before you fall in love with a child.
Special needs sibling groups. It is not uncommon, both nationally and internationally, to find one, two or more siblings in a group. A conscientious adoption agency will help match family groups with caring and willing adopting families. It is not uncommon for many of these sibling groups to have some other form of special needs: Transracial, have learning concerns, or have been victims of abuse.
Special needs Transracial children. A Transracial child is one where the race of the adopting family is different from the one of the child. It is illegal to discriminate during the adoption process by race. Agencies often are used in the placement of Transracial children, especially in international adoptions.
Special needs includes children and babies with pre-natal drug exposure or HIV exposure. Unfortunately some mothers of children are addicts, alcoholics, or have other health issues which may affect the child such as HIV exposure. Agencies must make adopting parents aware of these types of circumstances, and some private agencies will not handle children who test positive for certain health issues.
Special needs adoption agencies may deal with China special needs children. All children in the adoption program in China are considered special needs. Chinese adoptions are strictly monitored through a special Chinese government agency. It is wise to only utilize a Hague accredited agency to adopt from China.
Special needs foster care adoptions. In the US, children with special needs are under the protection of the public foster care system. These children may have been in numerous foster care situations before they are eligible for adoption. Many are older than 18 months. Sometimes the State government will work with an adoption agency, but often the State has its own rules and regulations in the adoption process.
Is a special needs adoption faster? Sometimes. International adoptions of special needs children may take the same amount of time as a non-special needs adoption. This is because of the horrendous amount of paperwork involved and the various US government regulations as well as the foreign government’s regulations.
If my child has special needs, will my health care costs cover it? Everyone’s health insurance is different and has different approvals. It would be wise BEFORE you consider a “special needs” child with either physical or mental health concerns to ensure that your insurance will provide for needed care. Sometimes there is a waiting period or a ban on “pre-existing” conditions. Children in State foster care may be eligible for health care provided by the state even after the adoption. This is a great choice if you have a lot of love, but little insurance.
Where can I go for help if I adopt a special needs child? If you are adopting through an agency, often the agency has counseling services, and is more than willing to provide you with information to help make your adoption transition a positive experience. In addition, when you adopt a child from state foster care, there are numerous state agencies to help: health services, counseling, school helps, medical help, etc. You can find more information about specific concerns from your state foster care web site.