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Special needs adoption

The face of adoption has changed dramatically since the mid-20th century. Long gone is the time when there were more healthy infants than homes available. Nowadays, adopting children with special needs -- once considered "hard to place" or "unadoptable" -- has become the norm rather than the exception.

Many of our adopted children come to us with some kind of special need. In fact, whether you've adopted domestically or internationally, your family stands a greater chance of needing outside help than families whose kids are home-grown.

In domestic adoption, if you adopt a child from a public agency you also get that child's history ... neglect, abuse, shunting from one foster home to another. You may have to deal with fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit disorder, attachment disorder, learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, and behaviour problems.

In intercountry adoption, similar problems arise, especially FAS, ADD, attachment disorder and developmental delays. For the cause, you need only consider why children become available for adoption ... alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty, abandonment, illness or death of parents. Long periods in orphanages contribute to developmental delays and attachment disorder.

For resources on adoption health, clinics and post-adoption assessment, see Health and Medicine.

About Our Kids.Org, Child mental health and parenting. New York University Child Study Center.
Adopt A Special Kid, Adoption and foster care services. Oakland CA.
Adopting Children with Developmental Disabilities, Types of disabilities; challenges. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 1999.
Adoption and the Stages of Development, The issues, from the first year to adolescence. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 1990.
Adoption Preservation, Email list discussing problems when adopting special needs children: attachment, OD disorders, etc. 682 members.
Child Health, Topics in children's mental and physical health. Public Health Agency of Canada.
Child Trauma Academy, Service, training and research in child maltreatment. Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.
Children's Disabilities Information, Articles on ADHD, speech and vision impairments, sensory integration, parenting children with special needs. Allison Martin.
Cleft lip: Operation Smile, Cleft palate.
Cleft lip: Wide Smiles, Cleft lip and palate. Joanne Green.
FAIR (Families Adopting in Response), Parent support group in Northern California, especially for special needs and older child adoption. Many articles from News from FAIR.
Family Helper, Post-adoption topics, including FAS, attachment. Robin Hilborn.
Guide to Special Education Advocacy for Resource Families, Advocating for students with special ed needs. U.S. educational benefits. PDF download. Casey Family Programs, Seattle WA.
Institute of Child Development, Research and training focused on adopted special needs children. Neurochemical research, therapies, attachment, sensory integration, PTSD. Texas Christian University.
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, FAS, diabetes, autism, mental retardation, blood disorders, ADHD. CDC, Centers for Disease Control.
Our-Kids, For parents raising children with special needs: physical and/or mental disabilities and delays. Our-Kids email list. Many resources. Randy Ryan.
Parent Network for the Post-Institutionalized Child (PNPIC), Devoted to understanding the needs of children adopted from institutions.
Parenting Special Needs, Many topics.
Parents' Index to Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Anxiety disorders, ADHD, bipolar disorder, ODD, conduct disorder, autism, Asperger's syndrome ... in K-6 children.
Postadoption Services, Fact sheet. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2006.
Products: Achievement Products for Children, Pediatric rehabilitation products for special needs children with physical challenges, brain injury, sensory integration disorder and cognitive learning disabilities. Canton OH.
Resources: Children with Disabilities/Special Needs, Contact info for U.S. organizations providing resources for parents and caregivers on children with disabilities/special needs. CWIG.
Resources: National Adoption Center - Resource Library, Articles on many topics, including Special Needs.
Resources: National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoptions, Technical aid with special needs adoption programs, for state and tribal adoption personnel, and individuals. Bibliographies; legal links. Spaulding for Children, Southfield MI.
Single Parent Special Needs Adoption, A personal story of special needs adoption by a single U.S. father, Mark.
Society of Special Needs Adoptive Parents, Good guide to various special needs. Vancouver, B.C.
Special Child, Online magazine for parents of children with special needs. Resource Foundation for Children with Challenges.
Special Needs Adoption, Special needs conditions; articles. Rita Laws on what parents need to know.
Selecting and Working With an Adoption Therapist, Professional intervention can help identify connections between problems and adoption, and to plan treatment. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2005.
Zero to Three, Promoting healthy development in the first three years of life. Parenting articles. Developmental milestones. Many resources. National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, Washington DC.


Adame, Laura and Bill Trickey. Thinking about Adopting or Foster Parenting Special Needs Children. Helps prospective adopters and foster parents evaluate their ability to successfully add a child with special needs to their family. AFABC library.

Anderson, Chitwood, Hayden, Navigating the Special Educational Maze.

Babb, L. Anne and Rita Laws. Adopting and Advocating for the Special Needs Child: a Guide for Parents and Professionals. Westport, Conn.: Bergin and Gervey, 1997.

Bailey, Carole Sue and Kathy Dolby, eds. Canadian Dictionary of ASL. University of Alberta Press, 2002. For anyone adopting deaf or hard of hearing kids, a dictionary of American Sign Language with over 8700 signs, many unique to Canada.

Cowan, Lissa and Jennifer Lee. Living with Prenatal Drug Exposure: A Guide for Parents. 2003. Society of Special Needs Adoptive Parents (SNAP),, and Ben Simon Press. For parents and professionals. Introduces caregivers to the challenges of caring for a child prenatally exposed to drugs.

Fahlberg, Vera. A Child's Journey Through Placement. Pediatrician demonstrates how breaks in attachment affect a child's behaviour, intellectual development, and emotional well-being.

Glatz, Janet. Fostering or Adopting the Troubled Child. Contains information on identifying common disorders and medications, and learning interventions to help parents successfully nurture displaced children. AFABC library.

Graefe, Sara, ed. Adoption Piece by Piece: Lifelong Issues, Special Needs, A Toolkit for Parents (3 volumes). 2003. Society of Special Needs Adoptive Parents (SNAP),, and Ben Simon Press. Collection of articles from experienced parents and professionals on adoption topics.

Gray, Steven G. The Maltreated Child: Finding What Lurks Beneath. Living Water Press, 2004. A pediatric neuropsychologist focuses on adoptive and foster kids with childhood disorders.

Jewett, Claudia. Adopting The Older Child. By a family counsellor and adoptive parent. Provides tools for dealing with separation and grief, family adjustment, and problem behaviours.

Jewett, Claudia. Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss. Techniques to help children resolve their grief over life events; stages of mourning.

Keck, Gregory, and Regina Kupecky. Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special-needs Kids: a Guide for Parents and Professionals. Colorado Springs, Col.: Pinon, 1995. Who the challenged children are, why they hurt, where the system lets them down, and what caring adults (in parenting and professional roles) can do to help.

Keck, Gregory, and Regina Kupecky. Parenting the Hurt Child. Piņon Press, Colorado Springs CO, 2002. With informed parenting and appropriate therapy, your adopted child can heal and grow.

McNamara, Joan and McNamara, Bernard. Adoption and the Sexually Abused Child. Ossington NY: Family Resources, 1990.

Peck, Cynthia. Adoption Today: Options and Outcomes. 67 families tell how they fared after adopting 42 international and 52 domestic children: special needs; medical conditions; emotional problems; learning disabilities. R&W Publications, Box 577, Hackettstown NJ 07840, 908-637-8828.

Smart, Jennifer. Adoptive Parents' Guide to Infants and Toddlers. Medical and developmental issues affecting adopted children up to two years old. Post-adoption Helper,

Ziegler, Dave. Raising Children who Refuse to be Raised: Parenting Skills and Therapy Interventions for the Most Difficult Children. Jasper OR: Acacia Press, 2000.


 Adoption Resource Central
 General    Considering    Collecting   Private    Public    Intn'l    Medical
 Countries   Agencies   Photolist   Gay   Older   Open   Single   Support
 Special needs   Attach  ADD  FAS    Institutions   Learning   Sensory  Parenting    Talking    School    Transracial   Culture   Search

Fertility Adoption Adoption Resource Central Post-adoption Family Tree
Contact: Robin Hilborn,
Box 1353, Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
©2007 Robin Hilborn. All rights reserved
URLs verified, Feb. 15, 2007
Updated, Apr. 6, 2007

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