The term special needs is commonly used to refer to children waiting to be adopted who are older, of minority heritage, part of a sibling group or have a disability. It is also used to refer to those children for whom finding an adoptive family may be more challenging. These children may be eligible to receive adoption assistance until they are 18 years old.
Most children who are available for adoption in the foster care system are considered to have special needs. Currently, Pennsylvania has more than 800 children waiting for an adoptive family to be identified.
Agencies look for families who can best meet the needs of a child. Agencies are also looking for families who can commit to a child and are willing to accept the reality of raising that child to adulthood.
Anyone with an approved family profile may adopt. Agencies must determine which family will best meet the needs of a child. Factors such as age, income, marital status and employment are explored during the family profile process. Pennsylvania wants to be inclusive with potential families rather than limit our resources for children who are waiting.
Adoption fees vary by agency and depend on the type of child the family wants to adopt. The adoption of children in the Pennsylvania foster care system is largely subsidized through the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) program, to minimize the expense to families. In most cases, there is little or no cost to adopting families. More information about adoption expenses is available from the child's agency or by contacting the SWAN Helpline at 1-800-585-7926 (SWAN).
Waiting times vary due to several reasons. Here are a few:
The family profile process may take up to 120 days. Matching services should begin upon approval of the family profile and registration eith the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange.
Families choosing domestic non-special needs or international adoption are eligible for a federal tax credit. Those adopting a domestic child with special needs are also eligible for a tax credit. For more information visit the IRS Web site.
It is important to answer your child's questions about their adoption. Many books are available that are geared to children of different ages. Pennsylvania has 10 district libraries that serve as Resource Centers for SWAN. Each center has many books, magazines, videos and resources specific to adoption issues. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse also has many resources available on adoption.
For more information about adoption in Pennsylvania, please contact the SWAN Helpline at 1-800-585-7926 (SWAN).