Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adoption by Special Needs Parents

There are many resources, articles and blogs out there for people who want to adopt special needs children. Specials needs range from mild to severe, medical, physical, psychological, and emotional. There is not much out there about parents who have special needs themselves who adopt.

My health problems make me special needs. I even had a 504 in school (similar to an Individual Education Plan, or IEP). It is due to my health that Mike and I cannot have biological children. My husband has a sleep disorder and an anxiety disorder. During the home study process, we had to discuss with the caseworker how our health might impact the life of a child. We had to get medical clearances from our doctors and our therapist that we were fit (physically, psychologically, and emotionally) to parent.

The greatest impact would be an anaphylactic episode. Luckily, since Junior has moved in, I have not had an episode requiring a trip to the ER. We have taught Junior what to do in case I need an ambulance and to follow the directions of the dispatcher. I have had allergic reactions to food in the 18 months Junior has lived with us, but I have been able to treat them with medication and not need my Epi-pen or medical aid. Other times, I hurt so bad from a Sjogren's flare I cannot get out of bed. About six months after Junior joined our family, I had three days I stuck in bed and he had to be very quiet when he was home. I wanted to interact with him, but was too ill to get out of bed. Mike had to be full time parent and Junior did really well during those three days. He even came in to check on me after school.

I know parents out there have taught their children how to respond should a parent have a diabetic, seizure, or heart problem. When children grow up learning these things, it is a way of life. Being brought into a special needs family, the family needs to consider the needs of the adopted child. Is the child capable of dealing with the family's issues while having his/her own needs met? Many adopted children come with emotional and psychological issues that the family should be able to address even if a parent's special need is in a flare or having an episode. I know with my anaphylactic episodes would terrify some children; a child that has gone through a lot of trauma would fear me dying.

As a special needs parent, I have more than just the needs of the child to consider. I have to consider how my health might impact the child's life or how the child might respond to one of my health episodes. You can parent an adopted child if you are an adult with special needs. I highly recommend speaking with your medical doctor and/or your therapist about how your health would impact the life of a child, how the life of a child would impact your health, what your limitations may be, and what support you may need.

For us, adopting a preteen/teen with few special needs was a better match than a very young child or a child with severe special needs. We needed a child who could dress himself, could care for self grooming, could fix a snack or simple meal, and could attend school. With our desires, we were matched with Junior. He has been a blessing to our family and adds to our joy.