Children with Additional Needs
The term ‘additional needs’ is used as a blanket reference to cover a wide range of needs experienced by children awaiting permanent care, either through adoption or permanent fostering. It can refer to emotional trauma, behavioural difficulties resulting from early experiences, learning difficulties, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, FASD and so on. All children who have experienced separation from their families and subsequently their foster families will experience varying degrees of emotional trauma and will require loving and therapeutic parenting. All of the additional needs and disabilities referred to above can be mitigated by seeking support with parenting through advance preparation, post-adoption support from skilled practitioners or by linking in with supports provided by Adoption UK Scotland, including their TESSA resource and the FASD Hub.
Below are several facts drawn from research:
“Disabled children less likely than others to reunify with their birth families and therefore more likely to require permanent care away from home. As a result, these children stay in foster care longer than their peers and wait longer than others to be adopted. Some children may achieve a form of permanence in foster care, but they are more likely than other children to be placed out of authority or in inappropriate placements. However, at an older age, children with disabilities are more likely to be adopted than non-disabled children of the same age.”
Akin 2011; Avery 2000; Baker 2007, 2011; Dept of Education 2014; Hayward & Depanfilis 2007; Romney et al 2006; Schimdt-Tiezsen & McDonald 1998; Simmel et al 2012; Simon & Dance 2000; Slayter & Springer 2011.
Learn If It’s Right For You
Adopting disabled children may not be for everyone, but for those wanting to experience the joy of self-sacrifice (and yes, it can be a joy) and the love of a precious child, nothing could be better than taking one of these special children into their homes.
What Disabilities Do They Have?
Some children have mild or severe learning disabilities or have downs syndrome. Other children have either been physically disabled from birth or became disabled through an accident or injury. Some children have mental health problems or other challenging behaviors. Some children are blind or deaf. Other children have epilepsy or cerebral palsy. But just like all children, they need the love and security of a family. And just like all children, they pay back that love a hundred fold. Adopting these children provides many hidden blessings!
What Does Adopting Disabled Children Take?
You don’t need special skills or super-hero strength when it comes to adopting disabled children, but there are some critical things you do need:
A Strong Marriage
Any adoption (or birth) is stressful. Your routines are thrown off. You lose sleep. Some freedom is lost temporarily while you adjust to a new little person in your life. That stress is sometimes multiplied when adopting a child who is disabled. So make certain you have a strong, happy marriage before bringing one of these precious angels into your home.
A Strong Support Network
The role of caretaker is a demanding one, especially when it comes to adopting disabled children, so you will need respite care on a regular basis. Will your extended family support your decision to adopt one of these precious children? More importantly, are they willing to provide breaks from time to time? Or are your finances such that you can hire part-time help?
Think About the Long Term
Some of these children grow up and are able to lead independent or semi-independent lives. But other children will need to be cared for their entire lives. When considering adopting disabled children, also think about the long term. Childcare costs for disabled children are higher than caring for normal children, sometimes fifty percent more.
Also, you may want to homeschool your child. Can you afford to live on one income? Plus, do you have the self-discipline it takes to set aside a portion of your earnings into a separate account so your special needs child will be provided for all her life?