“A child with special needs will inspire you to be a special kind of person.” –Global Hydranencephaly Foundation.
The short answer to the question “Who can be a special needs parent via adoption” is anyone – provided they comply with the adoption laws and process of the province, state, or country.
If individuals or families are pursuing adoption, then they need to be willing to care for their potential child no matter what special needs may arise. Despite all that adoptive families can know about their potential child, it is very likely that some, if not all, of their child’s special needs will not be known at the time of adoption.
Children who are adopted are at the very least coming from a place of separation. Even if a child is adopted as an infant, your child has still experienced loss, as his/her birth mother is no longer the primary caregiver. Many, if not all, children who are adopted have special needs, ranging from small special needs to a great many special needs. All adoptive parents can, and likely will, be special needs parents via adoption. Adoptive parents are choosing to raise a child no matter what, and will need to make many adjustments in their own lives to meet the needs of their child. Which is, of course, something that all parents need to do, whether they are adopting or not. If your child has special needs, you make adjustments in your life to help them.
“Sometimes even the greatest joy brings challenge, and children with special needs inspire a very, very special love.” – Sarah Palin
Before adopting a child with special needs it is helpful to be prepared for certain realities. Children with special needs will not be a quick fix, in fact they may not even need “fixing.” It’s important to accept them for who they are and meet their needs based on their cognitive level, which may not line up with their age. In most cases, it takes time for a child to trust, time for a child to love…these things don’t often happen overnight, especially with an older child. A child may put the family to the test, to see just what their “love” can handle. Quite often a child’s emotional needs are much more difficult to figure out, understand, and deal with than a child’s physical needs. A family needs to be prepared to love unconditionally, no matter what, even if the child seems difficult. No doubt they are simply expressing feelings through behavior. It’s important to look beyond the behavior to what the behavior is revealing about a child’s emotions.
“The Special Needs Journey is not one I planned to take…but I sure do love my tour guide.” – A Very Special Needs Resource
Are you willing to love unconditionally, no matter what?
Are you willing to fight (advocate) for your child? Fight to get the right services? The right diagnosis? The right accommodations? The right understanding? The right treatment? The right acceptance?
Can you live day-to-day, and cherish the good times and forget the bad ones?
Do you want the best for your child?
Are you willing to put your schedule aside for your child’s?
Are you willing to prove to your child over and over again that you love them? (not by giving in to what they want, but by setting clear boundaries and limits, meeting needs, spending time with together, listening, getting them the extra supports, being on their side, finding creative ways to encourage them to make good choices etc.)
Are you willing to take more parenting courses, to seek support from counselors, to realize that you may not know everything there is to parenting a child with special needs?
Are you willing to be the parent your child needs you to be? Are you willing to change for your child?
“I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you.” – Unknown
We could continue to make lists and ask questions about whether we could be a parent to a child with special needs, but in reality, one can never be completely prepared for all that a child will bring to the family – the good and the difficult. More often than not, parents will rise to the occasion of parenting their child because of devotion and love for their child, and become better people, better families, and better parents because of their child with special needs. Suddenly the world of parenting isn’t just black or white anymore, it’s a whole host of other colors in between. You are now parenting in color. It’s vibrant, it’s messy but wow, it certainly is beautiful.
Who can be a special needs parent via adoption? You. You just have to be willing.