Options for Families Seeking to Adopt a Child with Special Needs


adopt from africaInternational adoption can be confusing, trying to decide which country to adopt from, deciding the age of the child that is a good fit for your family and even deciding the gender of child you are open to; all can seem overwhelming to families. Adding to the decision making is choosing to adopt a child considered ā€œhealthyā€ or ā€œspecial needsā€. Even if a child is considered healthy, this does not negate the possibility of a health condition becoming known later after the child is brought home.

Special needs adoption can mean a multitude of different things depending on which country a family is adopting from. It can encompass categories such as correctable special needs, like cleft lip or palate or a child suffering from malnutrition or failure to thrive. Manageable special needs (but not necessarily correctable) include Chromosome disorders such as Down Syndrome or a blood condition such as Sickle Cell or Hemophilia. Other common conditions could include testing positive for Hepatitis B or a child testing positive for HIV. Older children over the age of five are also classified as special needs because they are considered harder to place than younger children. There are some advantages for families considering special needs children as many countries will also expedite the matching process as well as the legal process for families choosing to go the special needs route. For those families considering special needs adoptions where a medical condition exists, it is important that you do your research on the special need you are considering. Researching, education and consulting with a physician who specializes in the medical condition is a must to prepare yourself and your family for the needs of the child as well as to fully understand how this childā€™s needs must be addressed and how these needs will affect your family. We require that all of our families take the medical information to an International Adoption Doctor, and this is especially important when adopting a child with additional medical needs.

MLJā€™s Bulgaria, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mexico programs offer optionsĀ for families considering both adoptions of children with limited additional needs, and for familiesĀ considering adopting a special needs child or sibling group. TheseĀ fourĀ countries are signatory to the The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, also known as the Hague Adoption Convention and will provide an ethical and transparent adoption process. Every child deserves a forever and permanent forever family whether the child is considered healthy or special needs. Some countries have an established waiting child program specifically for families open to adopting a child with additional medical needs. If you are considering adopting a special needs child please visit our Waiting Child PhotolistingĀ for additional information.

All adoptions are special, but those families choosing a special needs child are taking an extra leap of faith. It’s a risk, but one that can offer many rewards, includingĀ providing a forever, loving and permanent family to a child in need of medical treatment that may not be offered in their birth country.

During November, National Adoption Month, MLJ Adoptions is raising money for its Special Needs Adoption Fund. Money donated to this fund will be used to provide adoption grants to families adopting children with special needs which include medical needs, children older than five and sibling groups. Won’t you donate today to help provide one more child with a loving, permanent home?

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptionsā€™ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.