While each child is unique, children who wait the longest for families (whether in the U.S. foster care system or in another country) often share some common characteristics. These characteristics include being an older child, being part of a sibling group who needs to be placed together in the same family, being a member of a minority group, or having a disability. Sometimes children with these characteristics are referred to as having "special needs."
The term "special needs" has a unique meaning in adoption that is different from how this term is used in education or health care. Many healthy children without disabilities who are in foster care meet their State's definition of having "special needs," which qualifies them to receive Federal Adoption Assistance (or subsidy). In this section, you will find information about adopting children with some of these characteristics or special needs, as well as information on some unique issues for children adopted internationally.
Adopting a Child With Special Needs as a Military Family
Describes various options for parents who wish to pursue the adoption of a child with special needs.
Adopting the International Child With Special Needs
Addresses the importance of adequate preparation, education, and realistic expectations throughout the process.
Adoption: The Waiting Child Video [Video]
Features images of children who have been adopted.
Gives access to the only national database of thousands of children available for adoption.
Common Myths About Adoption: All Children in Foster Care Have Special Needs and Require Special Education
Describes the broad range of factors or conditions that would qualify a child as having special needs.
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2012)
Provides website addresses for State photolisting services, which include pictures and brief descriptions of the children in the State's foster care system who are available for adoption and awaiting families.
Understanding Special Needs
The University of Chicago Adoption Center
Features several online videos outlining some of the more common types of special needs adoption.