Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome: Things to Consider

The challenges are unique, but you will never regret completing your family in this way.

Jennifer Galan August 09, 2018
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Choosing to share your life with a child who has special needs is a personal decision that will affect your entire family. Kids with different abilities can provide unique challenges but also incredible opportunities to love and grow together. It is not uncommon to find kids with Down syndrome available to adopt in most states—and if you are willing to learn and love, you might want to consider giving one of these kids a forever home. Here are some things to consider as you decide whether adopting a child with Down syndrome is right for you.

You will absolutely not be alone. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal genetic condition and is estimated to occur in about 1 in 700 births. There are people with Down syndrome in every race and country.

Each child is different and may have varying levels of developmental delays and medical needs. People with Down syndrome are more likely to experience certain medical conditions, including heart and thyroid issues. Vision issues are also very common.

There are so many resources available to parents of Down syndrome children. Most large areas have support groups, and national organizations such as The National Association for Down Syndrome are great at providing information, help, and opportunities.

Your child may qualify for Medicaid due to their diagnosis. This can be a huge help in obtaining needed services such as occupational therapy or physical therapy. In addition, your child may qualify for local programs such as Head Start or free preschool in order to help him become his best self. (The earlier you can get her intervention, the more success she will experience!)

Your child will most likely outlive you. In the “olden” days, individuals with Down syndrome rarely lived past early adulthood. With today’s advances in care and prevention, however, those with Down syndrome are likely to have a long life. If you are an older parent, keep in mind that you will need to put some provisions into place as far as guardianship and how your child will live out his life, if you aren’t around to take care of him.

You may not have to take care of her as much as you think! Many adults with Down syndrome live full, independent (or semi-independent) lives complete with jobs, relationships, school, hobbies, love, and laughter. Don’t think that your nest will never be empty—you may be missing your daughter sooner than you think!

The development may be different, but the parenting is pretty close to the same. Your child’s milestones may need to be adjusted, but you are still going to have to do most, if not all, of the “parenting” things you would do for a neurotypical child. You will still have to potty train, figure out school, and deal with a sassy teenager. It’s really important to remember that these kids are kids. They may have an extra chromosome, but they are really more like you and I than they are different. Their challenges may be unique, but if you feel like your forever family is missing a child with Down syndrome, you can do it, and you will never regret completing your family in this way!

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Jennifer Galan

Jennifer Galan mothers four kids (one adopted, three biological) all while living the nomadic life of a military wife. She is a strong advocate for open adoptions, education reform, feminism, kindness, and naps. Mostly naps. Her favorite Doctor is number ten, and she is a proud Ravenclaw.


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