Some couples go down the adoption route because it can be the only chance they will have of becoming a family unit. Others decide they have the room and love to offer a home to a child who may otherwise end up in long term local authority care. Often couples are apprehensive about adopting children with special needs and the extra care they will need, but, as with any child, these children will blossom and flourish in a family setting bring joy and love into the home.
Chartwell, a specialist insurance broker for those with disabilities, looks where to find information specific to adopting a special needs child?
Be my parent is a family-finding service for children in the UK who need an adoptive or permanent foster family. Run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) it produces a monthly newsletter and has an online library of articles about adoption and permanent fostering including a section of disability.
According to BAAF about 40 percent of children waiting for a new permanent family have an impairment or some form of special need, and children with learning disabilities are the most difficult to place.
Many disabilities will be diagnosed by the time you adopt your child so you have the opportunity to research the condition and make an informed choice about whether you can cope and whether you can offer the child the right kind of support and commitment needed.
For example The Down’s Syndrome Association website has a section specifically for families and carers. Cerebral palsy is another common disability. It is estimated that 1 in 400 babies are born with some form of cerebral palsy and many of these will end up with adoption agencies. CerebralPalsy.org.uk provides tips, guides and advice to those who are affected by the condition. Other specialist sites can be quickly accessed through a google search, but don’t forget to include uk in your search term if you want information specific to the UK.
Some disabilities though may not be apparent at the time of adoption. Responsible adoption agencies and social workers will highlight any potential problems they foresee from the history of the child. It is important to find out as much as you can before making your final decision on adoption.
One of the more widespread hidden disabilities, the scale of which is only recently really being recognised, is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It is estimated that between one and three percent of the population is affected by FASDs and this percentage will be significantly higher among children needing adoption and fostering. The NHS has a specialist online FASD clinic for information on where to go for help and advice when dealing with children with FASD.
Without question, adopting a special needs child is a life changing event and can be especially rewarding for all involved, but it is especially important to make sure you have all the information you need and have found out what back up support you will receive before making your final decision. If you’re worried about any adaptations you will need to make take a look at The Chartwell Home Modification Guide, which outlines modifications to make home access easier for those in a wheelchair.