Why adopt a child with special needs?

The second most asked question I get is why are we adopting a child with special needs? Aren’t there any health kids to adopt? Well, yes there are healthy kids to adopt, but there are far more with special needs that need to be adopted than those who are healthy. Special needs is a very broad term used in adoption for anything from birth marks to severe disabilities. Let me explain how and why we came to the decision to adopt a soon to be 11-year-old girl with moderate disabilities.

When we started our adoption journey we were looking into Foster Care adoption because we had heard there were so many children available for adoption through foster care and we weren’t necessarily wanting a baby. We did our research into foster care, but found out that in our county you cannot have more than three kids to adopt from foster care, so since we already had four we were not eligible. On top of that fact, the children who are available for immediate adoption, not foster adopt, were all teenagers. We did not feel comfortable bringing a teenager into our home with our small children. We knew that most children in foster care had been in abusive or neglectful situations, that is why they are in foster care, and children who have experienced those types of situations might act out in ways that might be harmful to our small children. The other option in foster care is to foster adopt. That means you must sign up to be a foster parent and then when a child is placed with you if they are not able to return to their birth family and then you can adopt them if you choose to. We considered that idea, but felt it would be too hard on our family to have children come in and out of our family before we found one that could stay.

So, we looked into domestic adoption again. We had adopted our three-year old son at birth through domestic adoption and had a great experience. He was born prematurely and is of a different race than us, and we were open to those things. Not many families in domestic adoption in our state were open to those challenges when we adopted our son. Thank goodness by the time we were looking into this adoption those ideas had changed and most people were open to children  of other races and those with medical challenges. So, we could have adopted domestically but we would just be getting in line behind 50 other waiting families in our state. We knew that was not where we were needed. So, we moved on to international adoption.

There are children who are healthy and infants that you can adopt internationally, however, the wait for these children is years. So, we decided since we already had a son with special needs we would be open to having a daughter with special needs as well. We really wanted a child who desperately needed a family not one who had a lot of families lined up to have a chance to adopt her. That is what led us to an older child with special needs. Those are the children who are least likely to be adopted. And there are so many who are waiting. In most countries if a child with special needs gets past the age of 13-15 they no longer have the chance to be adopted and are sent to live either on the streets or in a mental institution. We wanted to adopt a child who was close to that cutoff age, once we heard about what could happen if she didn’t find a family. So, we found a little girl who had moderate special needs that we felt we could handle as a family and she had been waiting 6 years for a family to choose her. She is living in an institution for children with special needs in her country. All I can say about how we decided to be open to such a child was that God opened our hearts. He has stretched us and helped us step out in faith. We have no doubt that God has called us to this child and we are stepping out knowing He will take care of our family as we stretch ourselves to do His will. Is is going to be easy? No way! It’s hard even now. But God does not call us to live a life of comfort and ease, he calls us to hard stuff. To grow us and stretch us in ways we cannot imagine. We opened our hearts to this little girl because she was in need. I would love to see more families consider adopting a child with special needs. It is challenging, but so rewarding.

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