I thought it would be kind of neat to see why we all chose to adopt a special needs child, and if the experience is what you thought it would be.
We actually were searching for a child with autism when we found B. I already had a million books on it, am an Aspie myself, idolize Temple Grandin, and really felt we could help him be the best he could be. BUT, we didn't choose him, he chose us. At the adoption gathering several couples tried frantically to cram around him because he's so darn cute and little. He was five, almost six, but like a 4 yr old in size. Think Joey Lawrence on "Gimme a break" and that's B. He freaked out and ran off, but came back and sat quietly next to dh and I. He stayed content the rest of the day right there with us. His cw was amazed, we were in love, and here he is.
The behavioral issues have been harder than I thought at times, but he has come much further much faster than I ever thought he would in so many areas. He amazes me daily in what he learns and retains. And unlike my bio kids, I got to pick this one! :eyebrows:
His obsession is trains and mine is books so we read a lot of train books together. It's awesome!
We didn't choose special needs, we chose our son. Our first foster placement was a raging, biting, angry little boy we fell in love with. Then he was dx RAD. What were we gonna do? We already loved him. He is now a mostly regulated (though kinda grumpy) 6 year old boy I adore. Our second son, his bio brother, came to us as a newborn. He has a fresh SPD dx and while his energy and aggression and need for motion drive me CRAZY some days, he's all mine.
That's not to say it's easy. The other night I held my 5mo foster baby and begged her to be healthy. And if she wasn't? We'd deal with it because we already adore her, too.
I wanted to adopt from foster care and knew that would mean special needs. I can not handle medical stuff but thought other special needs would be do-able. I work with individuals with autism and thoroughly ENJOY my work so I went looking for children with autism. I ended up being matched with 2 brothers with it. Reading their files, it is clear that I will be dealing with more than just autism but my life is pretty boring right now so why not add some chaos?
We had discussed adoption when Dh and I were still dating, knowing that we'd likely adopt at some point. (I have health issues, Dh was raised in foster care; a match made in heaven! :evilgrin:) We did adopt from foster care and we knew, as well as a novice can know, that we'd be adopting a child with special needs of some sort. We just were a bit unprepared for what that would really be like, living it out. Emotional special needs were a bit unexpected, even though we 'knew' and planned on that when we adopted.
So we adopted a child who was later dx'd with RAD (but we disagree; we think a mix of dysfunction of sensory integration, mild attachment problems, probable fetal alcohol component, and possible methamphetamines, along with the additional physical issues in development resulting from significant neglect). Then we went on to adopt drug addicted kids who have a variety of issues of varying severities.
So we knew we were adopting special needs and never really considered anything else. I don't know that we 'chose' to adopt special needs specifically, we just planned to adopt children who were in foster care and waiting for adoptive families and knew some of what came with that plan.
i didn't. i adopted 5 kids and had no intention of adopting children with special needs. and i ended up with 3 children with special needs, and 2 children who just require a little more patience ;). lol. we realized that special needs can happen/be present even in children who appear healthy at first. so for our last adoption....we are purposely choosing special needs. partly because of our experiences with our current kiddos- we have learned to navigate early childhood intervention, the school system, doctors and specialists. partly because we realize we have a heart and patience for children who require a little bit more. and partly because i am not really sure what i'd do with a completely healthy child. lol.
we ARE picky about what special needs we are comfortable with. for example....we've already done RAD...i definitely would not pick that one on purpose. ;)
and partly because i am not really sure what i'd do with a completely healthy child. lol.
I know what you mean. "Healthy" kids do seem a little boring in comparison!
I've read a lot about special needs involving attachment, behavior, emotional needs, developmental delays, and learning disabilities, but not much regarding medical needs that are correctable.
DH and I are considering the following (some we don't even see how they made it to the "special needs" list with agencies):
lazy eye (seriously??)
eczema (is this really a "special need"?)
But more to the point:
cleft lip/palate
club foot
ambiguous genitalia
Has anyone here had any experience with these?
What I know of cleft lip/palate is that in addition to multiple surgeries, there are speech delays and feeding issues to deal with, and possible counseling if the child is preschool aged and has experienced negative reactions from others.
For club foot, I understand there are leg braces and ongoing hospital visits and occupational therapy in order to help straighten out the legs/feet and teach the child to walk.
This last one I've been fascinated with since I saw a documentary about people - both parents of kids with this condition, and adults whose parents had surgery done on them choosing a sex only to later find out the child self-identified as the other sex. We both are a bit androgynous in a lot of ways, not at all in favor of gender-typing toys or activities, etc. We also are open minded regarding sexuality and identity issues that many mainstreamers find baffling. For this reason, I think this is a condition we could take on, as we would hold off on surgery until the child could tell us which sex they identify with, and we feel prepared for the ongoing therapy, both individual and family, that would help the child and us relate to them best.
Neither of us has a background in medicine or healthcare. We do have access to a great local hospital land various facilities, and I'm familiar with a state-of-the art hospital facility where my father was medevacked and treated a decade ago for traumatic brain injury. We don't currently have links to medical outlets, but feel that we could easily make them.
We do not intend to enter a special needs adoption lightly, which is why I'd like to find out more about these particular conditions. From what I understand, the cleft lip/palate is one of the most common special needs in international adoption, and it looks like we are headed internationally, so we'd like to be preapred somewhat, and not wait until we have a referral to try to figure out what it means. Also, we'd like to discern if it'd behoove us to sign up for their waiting child/special needs program rather than their "regular" program, if we are open to these conditions.
Thanks for any feedback!
I honestly didn't choose special needs in fact we marked off that we didn't want to deal with RAD, ODD, or any major issues including learning. I guess we were looking for the perfect child LOL:woohoo:
However, we believe that God had other plans and melted our heart to the idea of a 8yr old little girl who needed a home that could consistantly love her through her pain. She is RAD, ODD, ADHD, possible Bipolar and has very long list of learning disabilities.
This little girl has made our household come alive. Not always in a good way but she brings life to us that we were missing and we can't imagine life without her. It is certainly never a dull moment in our lives dealing with school and therapy and issues and tantrums and all the other stuff.
But... we wouldn't trade it now for the world...:love:
in fact we marked off that we didn't want to deal with RAD, ODD, or any major issues
we did the same thing. We wanted 'healthy' children because we didnt think we could handle certain things.
We certainly didnt get what we asked for.
don't get me wrong, I believe there is a reason for everything and I do know for a fact that my children would probably never be adopted as they were going from foster home to foster home.
But in all honesty, not sure if I would adopt if I knew what kind of pain I was bringing into the home.
I have experience with cleft palate/lip. I don't consider it special needs because my little sister did everything I did. She didn't talk clearly so not many could understand her besides us when she was little, and did have lots of surgeries, but she's happy and healthy with 3 kids of her own now. Her oldest was also born with a cleft palate (not supposed to be genetic but...). My niece also talks very nasal and had a trach/feeding tube because of the Pierre Robine Syndrome (tiny jaw that caused tongue to curl up and develop cleft palate). She's hard to understand but very smart and otherwise a typical kid.
My middle sister had a club foot (we get it all, don't we?) They put her leg in a cast when she was a baby and that was that. Problem solved. No special braces later, nothing.
No experience with ambiguous genitalia.
As we near the finalization of the adoption with B, I find myself thinking about adopting another child with autism (younger than the youngest) because we're pretty good with it! They are amazing kiddos who do so well with early intervention. I have the paperwork to prove B went from "severe autism and severe MR" last September to "Asperger's and normal IQ" last month. I'd hate to let my ABA stuff go to waste, but DH says we're through. (sigh) Maybe later.....
Perfect7 - thank you for your feedback. That's why I'm confused as to whether or not we're open to special needs, since how that's defined seems to differ from agency to agency and person to person even, and also if you're talking domestic or international (domestically I've heard that large sibling groups, teenagers, or racial minority kids are considered "special needs" in that they're harder to place).
Judging by what you've said, it sounds like we're probably best to not make a point of signing up for a special needs program, as that may involve issues we're not able to deal with.
I've read with several of you now that you've had experience with a certain need and thus felt open to it... and I must say I feel kinda bad bc I have a very close relative who has Aspergers, and precisely because of that, I do not want to take that (autism spectrum) on. Then again, she wasn't treated as a child, no therapy, nothing, and now that she's an adult, she doesn't talk about it, is sort of in denial about it, but her interactions with people (me included) are very frustrating (for me).
Thanks for your feedback, and God bless you all for taking on (consciously or not) these kids that needed the extra attention, patience, and expertise that you all provide!
After one healthy bio kid and one healthy baby adoption, we chose medical special needs adoption, but were told that he was very 'attached' to one of his caregivers in the orphanage where he lived for two years.
Well, the special needs/constant doctor appts., etc., are a piece of cake compared to the RAD he was diagnosed with after a year being home.
I'm torn on this one; part of me wants to adopt another baby, but part of me thinks we should use what we've learned and adopt a toddler again with some attachment issues.
Ani, those things you mentioned definitely qualify a child for special needs, as do sibling groups, children of african american decent, and any child over a certain age (varies by state). I just meant that to me it doesn't seem special needs because I guess there's so much in our family. Most people are not drawn to autism, so don't feel bad! Our family could not do more than mild physical disabilities because we're very physically active, but other families do it very well. We all have something different to offer, just like the kids waiting for us. :-)
I was approached by the state because my husbands brother (who is MR) was having a baby with a girl (who is also MR) and the state was taking custody when the kid was born. Christmas Day we find out it was twins and the girl had open heart surgery when she was 4 days old. I knew it was my house or foster care, so the twins came to me. Baby girl passed away at 6 months after several heart surgeries. M was showing problems growing, eating and developing. At a year, he was on a feeding tube, oxygen. He was born addicted, mom was drunk when she delivered via C-section 2 months early. At age 10, he is off the feeding tube and oxygen, but we have alphabet soup for diag's. I adopted as a single parent, because my marriage wasn't strong enough. M is 5 months younger than my Bio son. It is crazy some days, wonderful other days. I wouldn't change it. I'm not sure if I would do it again though...
Well, I would if the situation was right, lol.
We did not choose this form of adoption, but it sometimes comes with the territory. Your experiences have helped me greatly through your advice, thank you. It is important to note that you had the strength to choose this form of adoption, not everyone has what it takes. Not all children in the special needs system require this much devotion. My child was tough at first but mostly blends right in today. Some adopted parents can be scared away by this forum. I scare myself all the time when I read some of the experiences posted here.