Special Needs Adoption
Of the estimated 530,000 children who have been separated from their birth parents and placed in foster care, about 118,000 can never return to their original home. They need the nurturing and support that a permanent family can provide, and deserve a chance to grow up feeling secure and loved. That is where special needs adoption comes into play. It’s not so much about finding a child for a family, but instead finding the most suitable family for each waiting child.
"Special needs" is a phrase used to classify children who, for various reasons, have a harder time finding families willing to adopt them. Often special needs include factors such as age, background, and physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Typically, children who have special needs have been separated from their birth families, live in foster care, are school-aged, and may have physical or mental disabilities.
Some children have developmental disabilities that require special treatment; others have emotional scars from abuse or neglect. Children may also be classified as special needs if they are part of a sibling group that is being placed for adoption together, or members of a minority group. Every state sets its own special needs definition. A Glossary of Adoption Terms is provided as a helpful reference.
To learn more about adopting a special needs child, please read the Steps to Adoption.
New to Adoption?
If you have questions about foster care or the adoption process or need help getting to the next step, request to be contacted by a foster adoption specialist in your state.
If you have a completed homestudy, it is free to become a site member of