Matching a waiting child with a suitable family requires that a family take a good look at its own resources, limits and desires in adopting. Some prospective parents enter the process knowing they want to adopt a healthy infant. Others have decided that they want to offer a home to an older child or a child with special needs. Some are new to adoption and want to learn more before reaching a decision.
In the world of adoption, “special needs” refers to a broad category of children. Their one common need is for a permanent home with loving parents. Many of these children have physical or emotional problems, and they need someone to help them turn their lives around. Some of their problems can be easily resolved; others cannot.
A child with special needs may have developmental disabilities or a high IQ. He or she may be open and affectionate or shy and withdrawn. Some children have been moved around in the system, so they have not been able to thrive. However, a child with special needs may also mean a child who is over the age of five. Older boys make up a majority of waiting children.
Many waiting children are African-American. For these children, there is a great need for minority families or Caucasian families who display a willingness to help the child grow up with an appreciation for his or her ethnic heritage.
Some children are defined as “special needs” because they are part of a group of two or more brothers or sisters. These children need families who, if they cannot adopt them as a group, are willing to help siblings maintain contact with each other. Keeping siblings together as a family is a top priority.
Watching your child reach a fuller potential because of the love and support found in your family is a uniquely rewarding experience. Families caring for children with special needs usually have loads of extra patience and take joy in small day-to-day victories. Special needs adoption is not right for everyone, but the right combination of child and parent can result in a lifetime of love.