What’s a special needs adoption agency?
A special needs adoption agency, as you might imagine, is one that works specifically to help place children who have special needs with loving adoptive families. You might assume that this means those agencies work solely with families who are interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome or adopting a deaf child, but this isn’t necessarily the case. “Special needs,” particularly as it pertains to the foster care system, can refer to older children, children from sibling groups and children who are adopted transracially as well as kids who have physical or mental disabilities.
Of course, if you already know the type of special needs adoption you’d like to pursue, there are Down syndrome adoption agencies and deaf adoption agencies that you can work with for more specialized counseling, support and education. The first step, then, for those interested in pursuing special needs adoption is deciding what special needs you feel equipped to take on. At that point, you can begin researching special needs adoption agencies that have the relevant experience.
What questions should we ask before pursuing special needs adoption?
You’ve decided to grow your family through adoption, and now you’re considering adopting a special needs child. It could be an amazing decision, but there are some questions you may want to consider before making it:
- What kinds of disabilities are you prepared to handle? Rainbow Kids, an adoption and child welfare advocacy group, provides a fairly comprehensive list of physical disabilities for you to research different conditions and learn about what you may or may not be equipped to handle.
- Do you live in a place where that child will have access to all of the support and healthcare he or she may need? This includes access to a school district that’s equipped to handle your child’s disability as well as relatively close proximity to necessary and experienced medical professionals.
- Are your finances adequate to take care of a child with special needs? Unfortunately, some disabilities may be more of a financial strain than others.
- Will your insurance cover all of your child’s conditions and everything he or she needs?
- Do we know any families in similar situations? If not, is it possible to reach out to parents who have children with similar disabilities to talk about what the realities might be?
- Are you prepared to help your child remain in contact with his or her birth family, should that be a safe and desirable option?
- Would you prefer to adopt domestically or internationally?
How much does it cost to pursue special needs adoption?
The costs associated with special needs adoption vary, mostly because there are different ways to adopt a child with special needs. You could adopt a child through the foster care system, which might cost a maximum of $2,500. In addition, 91 percent of children adopted through the foster care system qualified for an ongoing special needs subsidy in 2014.
Adopting a special needs child through private domestic adoption, on the other hand, could cost up to $50,000. Working with a private adoption agency who places newborns, however, may not be the best option if you’re interested in adopting a child with special needs, primarily because the pregnant women who work with those agencies don’t yet know what conditions their child will or won’t have. Most generally, those who are interested in special needs adoption are okay with adopting a child who’s older than a newborn.
How do I choose a special needs adoption agency?
Once you’ve determined what conditions you feel comfortable with, you can begin searching for an agency to help you adopt a child. You’ll want to ensure that any agency you choose offers the following services:
- Counseling and support to all members of the adoption triad
- Screening and matching services
- Legal services with a trusted adoption attorney
- Facilitation of post-placement communication
- Financial protection in the event of an adoption disruption
Your agency should also be experienced in completing adoptions with children who have the same or similar conditions as your child. Ask what experience they have in that area. If possible, they may be able to connect you with other families who have adopted a child with the same condition.
Examples of Special Needs Adoption Agencies
AdoptionAgencies.com doesn’t necessarily endorse any adoption agencies, but the following links are to reputable organizations that work with special needs kids. Rainbow Kids provides an excellent list of different state agencies that help with special needs adoption as well.