Adopting and raising special needs children is a big decision. A child who exhibits physical, emotional, or mental disorders or syndromes will require extra attention and care.
No matter what, you will be able to pour your love into this child and bond with them in a special way. Keeping some of these helpful tips in mind will help make the process smoother.
Get insurance lined up.
Adopting and raising a special needs child often requires a lot of medical or therapy appointments. Before you bring your child home, make sure you get your insurance adjusted to cover your child.
Ask about issues that may arise with preexisting conditions, and determine what visits or procedures your insurance will cover. This research will give you peace of mind knowing what insurance will pay for. As a parent of a child with special needs, you’ll want to make sure there are no unexpected, expensive surprises down the road.
Allow for an adjustment period.
Once you bring your child home, there will be an adjustment period. Depending on the child and their medical situation, this could take months or sometimes longer.
Allow plenty of time to get your child familiarized with your home, your family dynamic, and your routines or schedules. Children with special needs often process significant changes in different ways, and the adjustment period can be longer than you might expect.
Remember that you are both getting used to each other and that patience is key. Celebrate small victories and take things slow. Trust and love will grow by learning to express your love and gratitude for them in a way that they understand.
Know that there will be some obstacles.
Parenting is hard work. Raising kids is difficult at times. And raising a disabled child or one with special needs can be even more challenging.
So give yourself grace. You will be giving a lot of yourself to raise your child, so keep in mind that you will feel overwhelmed and stressed sometimes.
But never forget that your strength is more powerful than you think. The love you have for your child and your understanding of your child’s condition will always be the greatest motivator to get you through the daily struggles.
Become an expert on your child.
Doctors, therapists, friends, your mom, someone you meet at the park or an IEP meeting — there will always be people trying to give you advice. But only you are the expert on your child.
Parents of special needs children know their child is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation. The hours they spend interacting and taking care of their child will make them the most knowledgeable about their quirks, personality, and specific medical situations.
Use your hard-earned knowledge to be an advocate for your child with special needs.
Surround yourself with a trusted support system.
The old saying “it takes a village” is especially true for raising special needs children. For single parents or those whose children have severe impairments, such as cerebral palsy, you’ll need to rely on other special needs parents.
This support will be in addition to trusted family and friends. Your support group is made up of people who love you and your child, and they will likely be willing to help when needed.
Maybe it’s making dinner occasionally or offering to watch your child while you run errands. Asking for help and surrounding yourself with people that want the best for you and your child is vital for your wellbeing.
Raising a Special Needs Child: Additional Resources
In addition to personal support, there are also some very helpful professional resources to tap into, including:
- Federation for Children with Special Needs is a national organization that offers information, support, and assistance for parents with children with disabilities. The Federation also has peer support networks that help connect families that may be going through similar situations with their children.
- Best Buddies. Your kids need friends and social interaction. This wonderful organization does a great job helping them develop those while also encouraging children’s communication and other independent living skills.
- Parent to Parent. This organization empowers and supports parents around the country. They connect parents and families with other parents and families with the same disability or mental health concern. This creates space for people to get the emotional support they need.
- Cerebral Palsy Guide. Get free educational materials, financial resources, and support options for families affected by Cerebral Palsy and other birth injuries.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”