Adopting a Special Needs Child...Is It For You?

It is very exciting that you are considering adopting a child who has special needs. Just as choosing to adopt internationally is a big decision, so is adopting a child who has special needs. Below are some points that we ask you to carefully weigh as you make your decision.

Are you realistically examining your resources?

•Financial Resources? – Can your family accommodate the costs that may be associated with the diagnosed condition and any potential undiagnosed conditions that may be identified later?

•Community Resources? Are educational and medical facilities available in your area for a child with this type of special need?

•Insurance? – The Health Insurance Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-191, known as the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill) bans group health insurance carriers from using pre-existing condition limitations to exclude newly adopted children from coverage. However, you need to contact your health insurance carrier to determine any conditions that may be applied.

Information Seeking…

•Research – Use the internet, your local library or medical libraries to learn more about the child’s special need. The more educated you are, the better decisions you can make.

•Medical Advice – We strongly encourage you to get in touch with your pediatrician to discuss the child’s medical information. Your pediatrician should also be able to refer you to a specialist who may be able to give you more specific information about the condition and the child’s prognosis.

•By researching this condition on your own first, you will have a better idea of what questions you should ask doctors.

•Doctors may be able to suggest additional information that, if provided by the foreign country, would be helpful in gaining a better picture of the child’s overall health. Please do not hesitate to pass these inquiries to us, but be aware that it may not be possible for all of the questions to be answered. We are limited to the level of information that the foreign country is willing or able to provide us.

•Other Parents – Talk with other parents who have children with similar special needs. They will be able to provide you with wonderful insight into parenting a child with a special need and may also be able to recommend additional resources with which to consult.

•Your Social Worker – The social worker who completed your home study may have some valuable insight and information about further resources that could be helpful to you. You will also need to make sure that you can be approved in your home study for a child with such a special need, if you are not approved already.

Important points to remember….

•This child’s condition may or may not be correctly diagnosed by the foreign medical professionals. The condition could be much more severe or much better than you anticipate.

•You must be prepared for either possibility. You must take into consideration the child’s age and situation. Along with the special need, issues that are common in international adoption include institutionalization, bonding and developmental delays. These should also be accepted as issues associated with international adoption.

•The decision to accept this referral is yours only. When inquiring with doctors, other parents, or your social worker, you are seeking advice and information only. No one can tell you what your decision ‘should’ be.

•Be realistic. If it doesn’t seem right, don’t accept the referral.

•Act quickly. Indecision may take away this child’s opportunity for this child’s placement with you OR this child’s referral to another family. However, it is understood that you may be limited by factors such as a doctor’s availability, for example.

In the end, you and your spouse must examine all areas of your life, and then move ahead on this journey that is uniquely yours.

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