Adopting Children with Special Needs
Advice on finding children with special needs to adopt and resources to help you in your adoption and thereafter.
You may also enjoy this story of the adoption of child with cleft palate from Vietnam.
Babies and children adopted from Vietnam are not generally acknowledged as having special needs. However some agencies do emphasis special needs placements as a specialization in their programs, and many agencies are referred children or babies with special needs by their orphanage from time to time.
In addition, while babies and children adopted from Vietnam may not be specifically identified as having special needs, some of these children do have some effects of issues related to poverty, such as malnutrition, sensory integration dysfunction, delays in motor skills, and short term asthma.
If you are interested in adopting a special needs child, I suggest you begin by contacting some of the major adoption agencies who have experience both with special needs and with Vietnamese adoptions. Many of the agencies on the Vietnam Adoption Agency Directory will place older children and children with special needs. You can also check the List of Adoption Photolisting Sites for adoption agencies who place children with special needs. (You might also want to check this same list for State Agencies with Waiting Children, a few who may be of Asian heritage.) One caution - adoption photolistings were originally intended to assist children to be harder to place find homes, but some use this pictures more as advertisements, so use care to select an agency with good qualifications and experience.
Quality and availability of information varies by province, agency and child. In general, medical and other background information for children adopted from Vietnam has been scanty. In some cases your agency or facilitator may be able to request additional information, such as photographs, videos, physician checks, and medical tests. Some adoption agencies are more willing or able to do this than others.
No matter how excellent the agency, they are unlikely to have the resources to provide a detailed overview of the medical and practical information you should have to make your decision. If you have questions about a particular child or special need, the international adoption doctors and clinics, as well as physicians specializing in international medicine or genetics may be among your best sources of information. They will analyze the information you have, suggest additional information that would be useful, and provide counsel. Be sure to ask if there are other issues or conditions which may be related to the identified medical condition.
We have several internationally reknowned websites devoted to providing special needs support for parents. You will find a large collection of articles and resources for children with a variety of special needs on these sites. A few subjects covered of particular interest to adoptive families include:
- Adoption and Special Needs
- Children's Disabilities
- Special Needs Groups
- Hepatitis B
- Asian Adoption Health
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
- Sensory Integration
- Speech and Language
Isolation is one of the greatest difficulties facing families raising children with special needs. Contact with other parents through the mailing lists is an excellent way to meet other parents who are coping with the same issues. The "Children's Special Needs Mailing Lists" provides an annotated listing of email support groups for medical, disability and special needs issues of interest to adoptive parents. A number of the support groups on this listing have been active for years and are becoming widely known.
Several mailing lists focus specificly on support for adoptive families with special needs children ( hepatitis B, fetal alcohol, post institutional effects, etc.). These are provided in the "List of Adoption Lists", along with other adoption email support groups.
Adoption Tax Credit
Be sure to keep all your adoption records so you can file for the adoption tax credit. As it is such a valuable tax credit, it may be closely scrutanized by the IRS. There are many benefits to this credit, including the ability to file over several years. Check with your tax advisor or use the most up to date software with free efile.
Allison Martin is an adoptive parent and the parent of a special needs child. She manages a number of support websites including Adopt Vietnam, Families with Children from Vietnam, Comeunity : Parenting Adoption and Special Needs, Prematurity and Children's Disabilities Information.
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