Special Needs Adoptive Process

What are the steps in the adoption process of special needs children?

 

  • If you are interested in adopting special needs children, call the WCDSS office and ask for the Special Needs Recruiter and Trainers. Families may learn more about special needs adoption through orientation meetings, individual interviews, and telephone interviews. For more information see our Foster Care/Adoption Orientation schedule.
  • All families must complete training to prepare for the adoption of special needs children. The special needs adoption program will provide the training. Your case worker can help identify other training, support, or advocacy group activities, generally needed to meet the needs of special needs children.
  • Families who are interested in a specific child and who appear to meet the child’s needs may fill out an adoption application.
  • Families adopting Special Needs children are eligible for adoption assistance.  This can include medical and financial assistance until the child is 18 years old.  Financial assistance is based on the needs of the children and the adoptive family.  Your case worker will help you through this process prior to the adoption finalizing.
  • Families will participate in a home study process which includes interviews and home visits by a case worker; checking of references, law enforcement records, and fingerprints, and medical examination. The home study process may take up to 90 days from the time you submit the application.
  • If you are selected for a child, you will be give the known background and current information on the child. This information will be provided in a written social history or social summary containing extensive background information on the child to be adopted and his family. This summary is prepared by the case worker and discussed with the perspective adoptive parent (including foster parents adopting foster children). This exchange of information is meant to help the adoptive family understand the child and his current and possible future special needs or problems; to determine whether the adoptive parents can meet the child’ needs and determine whether a subsidy would be required; to answer questions which the child may later ask about himself, his birth parents and background; and to help the adoptive parents and the case workers involved decide whether placement with a particular family is appropriate. The summary should include, but is not limited to the following: birth and other medical/developmental history; information regarding the child’s personality, temperament, habits; child’s family social and medical background; reason child was placed in care/relinquished for adoption; results of reports from psychological/psychiatric evaluations completed on the child; information regarding known hereditary problems or conditions; social history regarding child’s previous placements (if any); child’s history relative to abuse/neglect/abandonment; and specifics regarding child's special needs. This information is extremely important for future reference and use in meeting your adopted child’s needs. A copy of this summary is provided to the parents if the child is placed. Make sure you have it!
  • If you agree to the placement, an initial transition planning meeting is arranged, followed by a period of visitation between you and the child. After the visitation period, a placement decision will be made. The transition will be developed by a team made up of the foster family and adoptive family, case worker, and the child’s treatment providers.
  • The minimum period of supervision before finalization is six months. This period can be extended depending on the needs of the child and adoptive family. If you are adopting a special needs child, it is encouraged that there be a minimum of one year supervision. This enables the family to have time to grow and know each other. It also allows additional time to identify any special problems, which may require ongoing attention. It is important that the child’s special needs be identified prior to completing any adoption, since an adoption subsidy must be approved prior to finalization of an adoption.
  • Special needs adoptions require monthly home visits to discuss the child’s progress, the family’s adjustment, school issues, and any other issues which pertain to the adoption.
  • Families adopting Special Needs children are eligible for adoption assistance.  This can include medical and financial assistance until the child is 18 years old.  Financial assistance is based on the needs of the children and the adoptive family.  Your case worker will help you through this process prior to the adoption finalizing.