I'll publicy and opening admit something. I didn't start the adoption
process wanting a "special needs/waiting child". There I said it.
When we started the process to adopt, Nick and I wanted to adopt the healthiest, youngest child we could. When we were led to the Korean program, I was a tad hesitant... We would have to be in the "waiting child/special needs" part of their program. Immediately, I was terrified. To me, at that time, a "special needs" child meant a child who would be in a wheelchair, who maybe cognatively and physically would not be able to do "normal" activities. And that was a lot to swallow, especially for first time parents who were dreaming of this perfect child.
Thank the Lord, He put a family in our path to calm our fears. This family stepped up and told us their story of their two special needs adoptions. After talking to another mother and not just someone from an agency (and our agency is GREAT, but sometimes a momma just needs to hear from a momma!) my fears were calmed. When she told me of her son's special need, something with his kidney (I don't even remember what) and told me that it meant he could not play full contact sports and that it would not have even been detected had the child not gone through extensive medical testing prior to being released for international adoption, I knew we could do "special needs".
I marvel at the way God opened our hearts and our minds to a special need child and then led us to our Bates on a photolisting! A place that I used to look at and think, "oh poor kids, but that is not for me". Now, two special needs adoptions later, I know there is nowhere else we will seek to build our family from than those special needs/waiting children.
know it's a scary step, trust me I was there once. I'd be happy, over
joyed even, to talk to anyone who has questions about the special
needs/waiting children program. I'm by no means a medical expert, but
I'm a mom, a mom who has been there and a mom who can tell you that leap
of faith was the most amazing step God has ever asked our family to
found this blog post on our agency's blog when doing some research for
my waiting child series and just wanted to share it with you.
Times have changed in the international adoption world, and for prospective adoptive parents this means shifting images and asking new questions: What does “special needs” really mean? What can we be open to? What strengths and resources do we bring to parenting?
The vast majority of children coming home to families today have some form of special need, and more boys and older children are in need of families. These children represent the new face of international adoption. We hope that, as we enter this new era, prospective adoptive families embrace these changes as they begin their journey to the child who waits for them.
The New Face of International Adoption: Myth vs. Reality:
Myth: Children with special needs who are available for international adoption use wheelchairs, or have conditions that prohibit them from participating in daily family activities or living independently as adults.
Reality: The “special needs” range is very, very broad – from minor and correctable to major. Medical conditions are just one type of special need. Age, birth history, and developmental conditions can also lead to a child’s file being handled as a special needs case. Examples of minor conditions can include things that would not normally be considered a “special need” in the United States, like low birth weight, missing or extra finger or toe and a large birthmark. Moderate conditions could include Hepatitis B (carrier or active/positive), cleft lip/palate or heart condition. Major conditions could include Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. Many children who have been placed through a special needs process live full, active, independent lives. For every child, Holt staff considers the child’s needs individually and finds a family who is open and prepared to care for the child……look through Holts’ minor/correctable needs checklist.
Myth: There are more girls in need of adoptive families than boys, especially in China, because boys are considered more valuable in their birth countries than girls.
Reality: Just as many boys wait for families. Prospective adoptive parents frequently express the desire to adopt girls, more than boys, so boys often wait longer for families simply because they are boys. Right now, especially in China, there is an urgent need for families interested in adopting boys. The wait time to adopt a healthy infant girl from China is 5 years or more…..interested in learning more about adopting boys from China? click here…..OR read a story about a family who recently came home with their son…..
Myth: Parents need to be medical experts in order to care for children with special needs.
Reality: Adoptive parents do not need to be medical doctors or experts to parent a child with special needs. Many adoptive parents first learn of various conditions early in the adoption process, and they continue their learning over time. Researching various conditions can help parents as they work to find resources to support their child. When it comes to parenting, an eagerness to learn, resourcefulness, and flexibility are more important prerequisites than “pre-existing” medical expertise.
Myth: Older children have “Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)” and cannot bond/attach with their adoptive families.
Reality: Bonding and attachment is a process. Parents need to attach with the child, in order to help the child attach to them. It may take more time for older children to form secure attachments with adoptive parents, but it can be done. Abbie Smith, LCSW, Holt’s clinical services director provides support to families who are considering an older child adoption, or who have already completed one.