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Adopting special needs

At NewFound Families Virginia, we believe every child deserves a loving, nurturing home. Since April is Autism Awareness Month, we felt it prudent to shed some light on how you can make a difference in the life of a child with special needs.

Special needs adoptions include children who qualify for adoption assistance due to specific factors or conditions such as:

  • Medical conditions (such as autism)
  • Physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
  • Being an older child
  • Having a particular racial or ethnic background
  • Being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit

There is always an urgent need for special needs adoption in the U.S. In fact, the number of special needs adoptions nationally nearly doubled between 2007 and 2014—increasing from 32,402 in 2007 to 61,341 in 2014. Here in Virginia, many special needs children are waiting to find their forever home.

Adopting any child - no matter what the circumstances - comes with challenges. All children placed in a new home require commitment, patience, love, and a parent who will be a true advocate for them. When considering a child with special needs, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your family about your situation. What needs do you feel equipped to handle? What makes the most sense for your family? Remember - honesty makes you a stronger parent, not less of one.

While adoption can be a challenging undertaking for any parent, it’s important to remember that welcoming a new child into your life isn’t just adding another family member. You’re gaining so much more. The road traveled by adoptive families is full of surprises, many of which can enrich your life. While negotiating the path is not always clear, and frequently seems uncharted, you’ll have made a priceless amount of difference in the life of your child.

Raising a special needs child can come with additional expenses. However, financial aid is often available through adoption subsidies. These funds exist to help families meet the needs of the child they’re adopting, and can come from the state or federal level depending on the child’s history. It’s always a good idea to research the financial assistance available before adoption. Even if it isn’t, it doesn’t hurt to do your homework (especially when it could help you in the long-run). Check out the Virginia Department of Social Services Manual for some great information,

Above all else, you should never feel rushed in making a decision to adopt. Adoption is a big decision. Like all life-changing decisions, it’s better to exercise patience and have as much information as necessary in order to make the best choice for you and your family.

Of course, adoption and fostering special needs children isn’t for everyone. However it can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences for parents looking to bring light to a child’s life. If you’re considering adopting one of Virginia’s many children in need, reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Additional resources:
National Autism Awareness Month (National Autism Society)

NewFound Families

Adoption, Foster, and Kinship Association
PO Box 85
Ashland, VA 23005
Email for information