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May 2020   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Adopting Children with Disabilities

Of the 125,000 children waiting to be adopted, many of them are considered to have "special needs." Special needs is a term that encompasses several definitions, such as being an older youth or part of a sibling group. It also means a child who has a developmental or physical disability or behavioral issue. Every adoption has its own set of unique challenges and sources of incredible joy. When a family chooses to adopt a child with a disability, there can be additional challenges that require preparation. These vulnerable youth and their families often need additional support.

While there are many things to consider when choosing to adopt a child, families who are considering adopting of a child with a disability have additional things to consider. Prospective parents should ask:

  • What challenges and/or disabilities are we prepared to handle?
  • Do we have the financial resources to care for a child with special needs?
  • s our school district able to support the child's educational needs?
  • Have we identified sources of support for ourselves (training, other families, etc.)?

The Center for Parent Information & Resources is an organization dedicated to supporting families of children with disabilities. The Center offers resources especially for foster and adoptive families with links to factsheets about specific disabilities, including rare disorders. It also directs parents and caregivers to informational hubs for developmental concerns, evaluations, and special education information and where they can find their local Parent Center, which specializes in helping families of children who have disabilities.

There are also Federal and State programs that offer financial assistance to adoptive parents to cover some of the special care and services a child needs. Visit the Internal Revenue Service Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs page to learn about Federal adoption tax benefits. Other assistance may be available through your State. The North American Council on Adoptable Children website provides State-specific adoption assistance and subsidy information.

Prospective and current adoptive families of children with special needs can also use the following resources:


3 Resources to Recruit Adoptive Families for Older Youth

Services for Children
With Disabilities

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway


Children & Youth With Disabilities in the Child Welfare System

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway



By Adopt Special Needs



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