What Is Special Needs?

We heard an interesting comment the other day from a family at an adoption fair.  When asked if they would consider adopting a special needs child, they said “no, that’s something our family is not equipped to handle.” But when asked if they could adopt a child with a correctable cleft lip and palate, they replied “absolutely, that’s not a special need!”

The truth is how we define ‘special need’ in the United States and how international countries define ‘special need’ are two different things. If you took a survey of your friends and neighbors, most would define special needs as a child with major ongoing medical conditions. But in the Waiting Child Special Needs programs around the world, the definition covers a large spectrum of conditions. This includes minor conditions that are correctable such as cleft lip.

Others in the special needs programs have missing limbs, special medical needs, and physical or emotional development conditions of varying severity. One other category of children who are placed into the ‘special needs’ category are older children or sibling groups who are considered harder to place through adoption because of their age.

One of the very established programs for adopting special needs children is through China. The government of China has worked hard to stabilize, simplify and streamline the process of adoption for these special children. All God’s Children International has completed over 450 adoptions through our China program, with the majority of these children having special medical needs.

A big difference in a special needs program is that these children are currently waiting for placement. We work to connect them with a forever family as soon as possible. When families enter this program we ask them what ages of child and what special needs they are open to. From there we endeavor to connect children who are waiting, to the family who is open to their special needs, age and gender.

Today in China, there are 1,700 special needs children waiting to be adopted. If you would like to learn more about this process, join a free webinar, call 800-214-6719, or email info@allgodschildren.org.

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