Adopting a child with a disability
Attitudes to disability have come a long way but finding a new family for a child with a disability or special need still poses a particular challenge. There are hundreds of children with disabilities or special needs waiting for adoption. Some children waiting for adoption have mild or severe disabilities. In general, people tend to adopt children with no disabilities but all children need a secure and loving home.
Placing children with disabilities or those with special needs can be challenging, but for adoptive parents, it’s ultimately a very rewarding experience.
It is quite a specialist area as not every prospective adopter will be able to meet the needs of children with disabilities. However, some people will have relevant experience, possibly through work or from within their own family.
During the assessment process, all prospective adopters will be asked questions about their matching criteria such as:
- Could you accept a child with Global Developmental Delay?
- Could you accept a child with autism?
- Could you accept a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome?
- Could you accept a child with a physical impairment?
- Could you accept a child with special educational needs?
It is worth considering your own strengths as to whether you could consider meeting the needs of a child with a disability. All children have some level of uncertainty but adopting a child with a known disability requires the type of person who can cope with a potentially high level of need that at times may prove very challenging.
Adoption UK shared the story of Ben – a single adoptive parent to four children, all with significant extra needs.
Ben states that “inevitably adopting a child with additional needs is slightly harder but in my opinion, all children have a need, whether it’s ‘additional’ or not.”
Ben had experience of working with children and adults with a range of needs and states that adopting a child with additional needs has enhanced his social life as he has seen and done more things with the children that he would have done before adopting them. Having a family has improved his life and his children’s.
There is often a lack of knowledge about different types of disability and what will be required to meet a child’s individual needs. Further training or a discussion with your social worker could help you decide if this is something you could consider.
Adopting a child with a disability is not right for everyone but there are children with slight additional needs being overlooked due to misconceptions about disability.
The Adopters for Adoption team has extensive experience of working with children with disabilities, their families and carers and can support adopters to understand how they could meet the needs of a child with disabilities or developmental uncertainty.