Study results shared several years ago showed adoptions of children with special needs dropped by one-fourth in 2007. That drop is significant and although the surveys didn’t determine the reasons, that drop is concerning. But since that time, adoptions of children with special needs have increased. In fact, the number of children with special needs who were adopted in 2014 was nearly twice the number adopted in 2007 (2007 = 32,402; 2014 = 61,341).

Remarkably, of all domestic adoptions to non-relatives of the child, a full 88.5% were children with special needs. In this arena, “special needs” is defined as “children who are disabled physically or emotionally, children who are part of sibling groups, older children or children of minority or ethnic backgrounds…” The high number of “special needs” adoptions can be attributed to the fact the definition is not necessarily the customary societal understanding of special needs. “special needs may refer to any child who qualifies for adoption assistance due to special factors such as being an older child, having a particular racial or ethnic background, being part of a sibling group who need to be placed together or having physical, mental, or emotional disabilities or medical conditions.”

In some states, any child in foster care who becomes adoptable is considered a child with special needs. This is because every child in foster care has suffered trauma of some sort—either neglect, abandonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse. The great thing about this label, being placed as adoptable, in foster care is that government subsidies are available to assist both the children and the parents who care for them, even once they are adopted. With financial and other assistance, these children who have previously been presented with a bleak future, have a greater chance of success and increased hope.

Many who have adopted a child with special needs are more than willing to share the joy. If you are considering a special needs adoption, you may be interested in reading this article.