Kids with “special needs” are everywhere – even though their needs are not always obvious.
However, when it comes to adoption, the presence of medical needs can add a layer of complexity for families. Often, it’s knowing a child with special needs that allows a family to feel comfortable enough to take the leap of faith.
Think about how you see kids in your every-day world. Do you know a child who had heart surgery, but all you see is an agile soccer player? Or a child with a limb difference you see only as a good friend to all his classmates? What about the child with cleft lip and palate who is excelling at school? It’s those personal connections that can change fear into family. In your world, you see the child FIRST…not the disability.
However, that’s not always the case when you look at photos of waiting children. It’s easy to focus on the physical differences or medical need rather than look at the whole child.
As you start to explore whether adopting a child with special needs is right for your family, here are some things to consider:
- Many special needs have a broad range of severity. For example, a condition like cerebral palsy can be extremely mild, having only a barely noticeable effect on speech or mobility.
- Although a child’s appearance may be affected, many special needs have no impact on physical health or intellect. Kids with limb differences or cleft lip and palate are often abandoned in some countries because of the social stigma of looking different, even though the child’s health or cognitive abilities are not affected.
- Many conditions are stable or improve over time with therapy or rehabilitation – interventions that are not available in most orphanages. When children with special needs have access to these services here in the US, they often improve by leaps and bounds! This is especially true of kids with developmental delays.
- Virtually every medical need – including heart conditions – can be treated or managed here with surgery or medication.
- Many conditions like HIV or hepatitis are “invisible,” and, while they need medication or monitoring, they don’t necessary affect a child’s day-to-day life.
If you’re considering adopting a waiting child, begin by learning more about the most common — and often the most misunderstood — medical needs. These include cleft lip and palate, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and spina bifida.
If adopting a child with special needs is outside of your comfort zone, have you ever considered adopting an older child? Many older kids are healthy and show great resilience after a tough start in life. They just need a family to nurture them and help them heal.
Special needs adoption may not be right for everyone, but many families who had reservations find themselves reconsidering their decision once they do some research. So, as you look at waiting kids, remember to IMAGINE THE POSSIBLITIES!
Wide Horizons For Children is dedicated to the well-being and security of vulnerable and orphaned children worldwide. To accomplish our mission, we: - Strengthen families to improve their ability to care for their children - Improve outcomes for children living outside of parental care - Place children with loving, adoptive families - Support birth parents, adoptive parents and children throughout their lives