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Can I Adopt A Child with Disabilities?

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Yes, there are many children with disabilities in the US available for adoption. Children in foster care who have physical or mental disabilities are often described with the phrase "children with special needs," indicating that their physical, mental, or emotional needs qualify them for Federal and State assistance with their care.

When you are considering adopting a child with disabilities, think about these factors, which will affect the success of your placement:

1. Do you have a completed homestudy which approves you for the placement of a child with disabilities?

2. Do you live in a part of the US which provides a full-range of supportive medical and related services to this child?

Living in an area with supportive services for children with disabilities and working with the local public child welfare agency to get a homestudy done should be helpful to you. Most children with disabilities coming into the public child welfare systems will be placed by the State or county with the county's own foster or foster-adoptive parents. Public agencies or private agencies with experience in training and supporting families who adopt children with disabilities are the best resources for families who are considering such adoptions. Experienced agencies should be able to help families identify the support resources within their community best suited to helping meet the children's unique needs as well as their need for ongoing support and resource referrals.

If you are interested in learning about available special needs children of all ages across the US, contact these organizations:

* The public/private agencies in your state or county can let you know about children in your area who are awaiting new families. Express your interest in adopting a child with disabilities. We provide the National Adoption Directory online with which you can search for agencies across the country.
* Search AdoptUSKids, the national photolisting Web site for children with special needs. AdoptUSKids is an initiative of the Children's Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is operated by the Adoption Exchange Association.
* Contact Children Awaiting Parents (CAP) at http://www.capbook.org for "special needs" adoption and national contact information.

There are also many organizations that assist in the placement of children with specific disabilities. Some of these organizations are listed below:

Search the American Council for the Blind Web site for resources on the adoption of children with blindness or vision impairment.

American Council for the Blind
1155 15th Street NW
Suite 720
Washington, DC 20005
(800) 424-8666
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web site: http://acb.org

The Deaf Adoption News Service, a special interest group of the World Federation of the Deaf, has been in existence since it began with a handful of subscribers in early 1994. DANS is a text-only free listing service for waiting foreign and domestic deaf and severely hard of hearing children.
http://www.erols.com/berke/deafchildren.html

A.K.I.D.S. Exchange - An adoption exchange for waiting children with Down Syndrome and families who wish to adopt children with Down Syndrome, called A.K.I.D.S. Exchange. It is located in White Plains, NY, and can be reached at (914) 428-1236. The Exchange also provides support services for families.

Children with drug exposure in their background face many challenges, but new research is showing that their long-term outcomes are close to those of non-drug-exposed children. It may be helpful to read NAIC's "Hot Topic" on drug-exposed children, or to contact the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information for information on disabilities common among drug-exposed children.
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