Adopting Children with Disabilities
By Tom and Sherry Bushnell
Abortion has made fewer children available for adoption. Special needs children are particularly at risk for pre-birth death. It is now mandatory that medical care givers offer the Alpha Fetal Protein test during pregnancy to detect early signs of Down syndrome or other disabilities. Consequently some mothers are scared into a hasty abortion decision, based on worldly priorities. Ideas such as, "You don't want to be saddled with this retarded child and ruin your life," or, "Why put your family through this grief? Just have an abortion and start over," are common.
Professionals may be surprised be hear that you wish to adopt a special needs child. Some may even be skeptical and want to interview you a little. They are curious. Sadly, some may even suspect a monetary motivation. Firmly cement your convictions about adopting special needs children into a few succinct phrases.
Adoption through your State Department of Child and Welfare Services
Parents wishing to adopt special needs children through the state can encounter negative experiences. However, some families have had success. Finding a supportive social worker has been the key. Unfortunately, so much red tape entangles many children that cutting through can be disheartening. Be aware that Christian families simply wanting to open their arms to a special needs child have been emotionally damaged through dealing with the state. Opening their home to the state's scrutiny endangered the peace of their home and safety of their present children because social service agents disagreed with the parents' convictions about Biblical child training techniques, including spanking.
Thousands of families wishing to add children to their loving homes have successfully adopted through agencies in the US. Call around for a reputable Christian agency. We have had good experiences with Holt International in Oregon. If you do not live in the state of Oregon, but wish to work with Holt, you will need to find a licensed agency willing to work with Holt in getting your homestudy and post-adoptive visit done. The advantages of adopting a child from another country are: Not having to deal with your state's red tape. Children are readily available from a variety of countries with a variety of disabilities. Not running the risk of opening your home to the state's scrutiny.. Not having to deal with the open adoption concept which is very prevalent in America today. Christian parents should think twice about the open adoption idea in light of the possibility of being legally required to expose the family to non-Christian influences. Problems to be aware of when adopting over seas include: Inaccurately diagnosed medical problems. "Orphanage syndrome" or attachment problems. Possibility of expensive processing fees.
In Country Private Adoption
There are special needs children available for adoption in the United States. Where? How? The following are some suggestions
for parents to work through if they feel the Lord is leading them to adopt a special needs child. Contact CHASK (Christian Homes Adopting Special Kids) 1. Pray together as husband and wife. Is this the Lord's leading for your home? If either husband or wife has any reservations these should be addressed. If, after talking and praying, either parent still feels a check, proceedings should stop until further notice. This is important. Careful attendance to each other's thoughts and feelings about this particular situation will reap great rewards in the future. When both husband and wife feel they should continue toward finding a child, the next step is... 2. Become familiar with the adoption laws in your state. Does your state require a six-month waiting period before final adoption papers are filed? What can you legally reimburse the birth mother for? Did you know that many states have funding available to cover birth and medical expenses for special needs children?
Find a lawyer familiar with adoption laws. Look in the phone book. Ask around. Some may not be familiar with special needs specifics. 3. Hire a social worker you can trust. How? Like any other treasured resource, this may take some digging. Ask other Christian adoptive families in your area whom they used and whom they would recommend. Interview prospective social workers on the phone before you agree to have them do the home study and before you send them any money. Ask them leading questions such as: How do you feel about home schooling? How do you feel about home educating a special needs child? How do you feel about Biblical child training? Be sure they agree that you will receive a copy of the home study or update as soon as it is completed. This is important. Legally you can have one, but many agencies would have you believe otherwise.
4. Work within your state. Moving a child across state lines require certain legal proceedings. Interstate compacts require a social worker and a lawyer from your side, and a social worker and lawyer from the child's or birth parents' side. This drives the price up. Everybody gets a cut. 5. After you have a social worker that is behind you and a completed home study, obtain three letters of recommendation from three different sources in your community that are not relatives. These could be a pastor, a trusted friend, an employee or anyone else you feel may give you a nice letter. These can be confidential and mailed to your social worker if need be. 6. Call around and locate newspapers in your state that allow adoption ads. Start local and then move out. Be specific in your ad. It may read: Loving, Christian, stay at home family wishes to adopt a special needs child, age birth to 2 yrs. We would welcome disabilities such as deafness, blindness, Down syndrome or physical impairments. Child should presently be otherwise healthy. Approved homes study. Please, contact our social worker, Jan (004) 804-4444.7.
Be patient. Pray. Spread the word in your community. Ask permission to put up a notice on bulletin boards such as those at churches and other community centers. Include a picture of your family, on a nicely typeset wording. 8. Talk to your physicians and gynecologist. Most will be enthusiastic. They are in direct contact with mothers who will be unable to care for their special needs children.
There are literally millions of children waiting for permanent homes. Has God called your family to be a ministering home for a disabled child? If more of the Christian community would share the burden of disability, the world would be a happier place. Families who have obeyed His call in their life and adopted a special needs child or two can attest to the many blessing these treasures have brought into their lives.
Is He calling you?