Special needs children
Children with special needs are, first and foremost, just like other children. Every child needs a family, special needs or otherwise. All around the world there are children with special needs waiting to be adopted. But adopting special needs children requires a certain amount of education and research before you make the decision.

The first step is to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Are you prepared enough to handle the medical, physical or behavioural conditions of a special needs child?
  • Do you have enough family support and the necessary help?
  • Have you fully understood the emotional / physical requirements of the special needs child?
  • Have you found out about financial planning and insurance cover for any adverse medical conditions that may arise?
  • Are your requirements coming from an altruistic need?

It may be daunting and intimidating in the beginning, but talking to other prospective adoptive parents could be useful in mitigating the fears and concerns.

Expectations from a prospective adoptive parent
A prospective parent may be willing to open her mind and heart to adopting a special needs child but she will be unable to do this alone, and will need the support of all the stakeholders.
There are a set of unique expectations from the family as well as the wider society around the prospective adoptive parent (PAP) who is contemplating the option to adopt a special needs child. Here are some pointers for each stakeholder to ease the process for her.

From the adoption agency
The PAP will require support in the form of encouragement and enthusiasm from the agency from which they wish to adopt a child. If the agency or other authority have limited patience and time to clarify the concerns and queries of a Prospective Adoptive Parent, the significant person impacted is the special needs child who is waiting for a nurturing home.

Home study
Once the home study is done and the final match is made, full disclosure of the medical aspects of the child from the agency is vital. The PAP needs transparency and clarity on whatever information the agency can provide on the child to make an informed decision.

Extended family
While every adoptive parent needs the emotional and physical support of family and friends, the unique physical and emotional requirements of a special needs child make it even more important. The extended family should be conscious of the fact that no noble or altruistic intentions should be ascribed to the adoption. Providing the PAPs with physical /emotional support is the only prerequisite from family, friends and co-workers.
The need for social support and activities is a long-term requirement and an important aspect for the prospective parent. PAPs and adoptees will require warmth and understanding from the support groups on a continual basis to foster healthy relationships for the adoptees.

Legal framework
Attorneys, lawyers and courts need to be very responsive to the needs of the PAPs and adoptees and ensure the paperwork for procuring adoption deed and birth certificates is completed smoothly without any delay. The parents may be hard-pressed for time or lack the energy required to spend hours on end to complete the formalities.

Educators
Educators need to play a more active role in terms of educating and creating awareness on adoption and the needs of the adopted child. Schools must incorporate inclusive educational programs and trained special needs educators. As these special needs children have unique learning requirements, educators need to be able to discern behavioural concerns arising out of adoption and those related to the concerns of a special needs child.
Schools need to create awareness and sensitise all children to develop empathy towards special needs children. They should have access to programs that could help them with their overall development and given equal opportunities. The primary goal of educators should be to build accommodative learning capabilities for children with special needs.

Medical community
The care and the attention becomes more critical for special needs adopted children. Paediatricians will require to develop a very sensitive approach towards parents who have adopted special needs children. Putting them at ease and answering their queries in initials months is of utmost importance.

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