A Letter to Prospective Adoptive Parents
All Adoption Stories
Why Does It Take So Long To Adopt A Child?
Life with a child with medical or special needs takes extra time, energy, and knowledge. There is a steep learning curve in dealing with the medical, educational, and health insurance systems. It takes planning and coordination to meet your child’s needs and advocate for him or her in these complex systems. My experience as a parent of an adopted child with special needs, and as a professional who works with children with special needs, has given me some insights into this planning and coordination. Here are the top five things you can do to prepare for bringing home your adopted child with medical or special needs:
The most important thing I wish parents knew is that they are not alone in this journey. As you enter into the world of adoption, you learn that your family becomes part of an adoption community. The same is true of becoming a parent of a child with special needs. You become part of a community of parents who understand the daily struggles of children with special needs and professionals who can guide you to important services. In this community you will find information, advocacy, and guidance.
While you may not know fully the needs of your child, you can make a tentative plan and increase your awareness resources in your community.
As part of this process, it is helpful to understand the range of professionals, facilities and services you may encounter, such as the following:
Medical and therapy appointments take a lot of time. Many children have on-going needs that require regular check-ins with doctors and several therapy appointments a week. If your child is likely to have surgeries, it is important to consider how to accommodate this within your family. Having flexibility in your work and family life, as well as a strong support system can be very beneficial when parenting a child with medical or special needs. Many families use the Family Medical Leave Act for assistance.
Read the full booklet and then call your health insurance company with specific questions related to your child’s potential needs. Watch your explanation of benefits and billing statements to ensure accuracy.
Know who the local contact is in your district prior to bringing your child home so you have a plan in place to initiate services.
Not sure how to find your local district? Try the Help Me Grow website.
Adopting a child with medical or special needs may take extra time, energy, and knowledge, but it is worth it all when you see your new child thriving in your family. My goal is not to scare anyone away from special needs adoption, but instead to empower through knowledge and support. It may feel overwhelming, but the steps above allow you build a community, gain the knowledge to meet your new child’s need, and find the right profession to help. After many years of working professionally with children with special needs, I had to learn as a mother to ask for help, and by just asking I was lead to wonderful support within the special needs community that has helped me be a stronger parent for my daughter.
Paige Hays is a mother, an adoptive parent, and a special needs parent. She is an occupational therapist with extensive experience and expertise in working with children who have developmental needs. You can learn more about her and her services for adoptive parents at paigehays.net.
With a combined 275 years of experience, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota serve children and families through adoption, child welfare, and family preservation. We are driven by the understanding that a child in a safe, nurturing home is a child who thrives. We work to give every child security, opportunity and a loving fa...Learn more, see kids, or contact agency 1605 Eustis St. Minnesota
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