When many people think of “special needs adoption,” they often think of children with debilitating physical, emotional or mental disabilities. But, while it’s true that many wonderful families are interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome, adopting a deaf child, or adopting a child with another serious condition, the reality is that adopting a special needs child in Iowa can encompass many different kinds of situations — including children who would otherwise be deemed 100 percent healthy.
Many of the children placed for adoption in Iowa meet at least one of the various definitions for a special needs adoption, especially if they are children currently in the foster care system. Because the definition of “special needs” can vary in Iowa, it’s important that hopeful adoptive parents work closely with experienced adoption professionals every step of the way to prepare themselves for the adoption journey and for the process of parenting a “special needs” child.
The Nelson Law Firm is here to help. Whether you are considering adopting a child from foster care who is deemed “special needs” or adopting a special needs infant through a private domestic adoption, our professionals can guide you through the legal process of your adoption. With our help, you can safely and legally add a new member to your family.
To learn more, please contact our firm at 319-291-6161 or online today.
What “Special Needs” Adoption Really Means
The term “special needs” is defined a bit differently in adoption than it is in everyday society. In general, a “special needs adoption” is any kind of adoption in which a child may have a more difficult time being placed with an adoptive family.
The Iowa Department of Human Services defines a child as having “special needs” if:
- They are 8 years old (or older) and Caucasian.
- They are 2 years old or older and a member of a minority race or ethnic group, or the child’s biological parents are of a different race.
- They are a member of a sibling group of three or more.
- They have a medically diagnosed disability that limits one or more major life activities or requires professional treatment, assistance in self-care or the purchase of special equipment.
- They have been diagnosed with a mental or developmental delay by a qualified mental health professional.
- They have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
- They have been diagnosed with a behavioral or emotional disorder characterized by behavior inappropriate to their adoption situation.
Children who meet these requirements and are adopted from the foster care system are eligible for the Iowa adoption subsidy, designed to make a permanent adoption placement easier. For more information about the Iowa adoption subsidy, reach out to your local Department of Human Services office.
Is Adopting a Special Needs Child in Iowa Right for You?
Adoption itself is a big commitment for any hopeful parent to make, and adopting a special needs child in Iowa is no exception. It’s important that every adoptive parent considering this path do proper research and understand the requirements expected before deciding to proceed.
If you’re considering a special needs adoption in Iowa, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I decided what conditions I am open to? If you pursue a special needs adoption, you will have the chance to determine what kind of situations you and your family are comfortable with. Make sure you research the potential conditions of an adopted child to determine which you are prepared to provide for in the years to come.
- Can I address my child’s specific needs? When deciding what circumstances you are open to, think about your current lifestyle and the changes you would need to make. For example, if you are interested in adopting a deaf child, you will need to learn American Sign Language.
- Am I prepared to adapt to my child’s needs over time? In many cases, a child dealing with emotional or mental complications upon adoption can quickly readjust and become a happy, healthy child with supportive parents and a safe environment. Other children will not, or their conditions cannot be improved. All parents of special needs children should be prepared for changes in a child’s condition and be committed to the lifelong journey ahead.
Resources for Completing a Special Needs Adoption in Iowa
If you are considering a special needs adoption in Iowa, know that our legal professionals are here to help you complete your legal process. This will involve terminating the birth parents’ parental rights and finalizing your adoption. Our legal services will depend upon whether you adopt from foster care or adopt a child from a prospective birth mother. Please contact our law firm today for more information.
In addition to an adoption attorney, there are a few more resources you will need when adopting a special needs child in Iowa. If you are adopting from foster care, you will need to work with your local Department of Human Services to complete necessary training and prepare yourself for this journey. DHS can also help you find an adoption placement or connect you with a local child-placing agency that focuses on certain conditions, such as those professionals assisting with Down syndrome adoptions.
If you are considering adopting a special needs child through an infant adoption, you can always choose to work with an adoption agency for support during this journey and assistance finding the perfect adoption situation for your family. Our law firm can provide references to local adoption agencies, should you need them.
A special needs adoption is an adoption path that comes with unique considerations and challenges — but it can also be one of the most rewarding ways to add a child to your family. If this is a path you are interested in, know there are many options available to you; it’s all about finding the right professional. Our law firm is a great place to start.