This year for National Adoption Month, we are shining a spotlight on special needs. All month long, we will share videos and stories that demystify some of the most common — or most misunderstood — special needs, from cleft lip & palate to HIV to children who are older in age when they come home. Follow us on social media this November for myth-busting information and first-hand experiences of adoptees and families! Who knows, you may be surprised by what you learn, and how you could be the perfect family for a child with special needs.
Eight-year old Elizabeth is smiley, easy-going and kind. Tanner is also 8 and is extremely social, helpful and caring. Six-year-old Aubrey is outgoing and loves riding her tricycle. Thirteen-year-old Braxton is shy and patient and enjoys practicing calligraphy.
But despite their differences, these children all have two notable things in common. One, they are all waiting to join a permanent, loving family of their own. And two, they all have a special need.
This is not a coincidence.
In fact, it’s the norm. Today, almost all of the children waiting to join a family through international adoption have some kind of special need.
There are several reasons for this trend.
The first is poverty, plain and simple. When families are living in poverty, in a country lacking in social services, they simply don’t have the resources to provide the additional medical care, equipment or therapies that a child with special needs will need to thrive. Feeling they have no other recourse, they may make the heartbreaking decision to relinquish their child, believing that his or her needs will be better met in someone else’s care.
Children with special needs aren’t the only children who come into institutionalized care around the world. But among the hundreds of children living in any given orphanage, children with special needs always wait far longer for a family than children who have no known health or developmental needs.
In almost every instance, the youngest, healthiest children in the orphanage will be quickly adopted by families in their birth country.
In short, healthier children are adopted domestically, while children with special needs remain in the orphanages. If a family does not come forward in their birth country, these children may then join a family through international adoption.
And for the vast majority of children with special needs, international adoption will truly be their last, best chance at having a loving family.
Thankfully, through the years, more and more families have opened their hearts to a child with special needs. Last year, over 500 children with special needs joined permanent, loving families through Holt! But every year, more and more children come into care — adding to the long list of children still waiting for a family.
This November, with your help, we can shorten this list — joining hundreds more children with the loving families they need and deserve!
Not only is our task to find a family, but the right family for each child. Depending on the child and his or her needs, this could be a family that’s close to certain medical specialists, or one that can advocate for a child to get the specialized learning support they need in school, or maybe an experienced family that’s comfortable parenting a child with complex emotional needs. This National Adoption Month, we invite you to dig in and learn more about special needs. You may be surprised by the diverse capabilities of the children who have a certain special need, and as you learn more, you may be surprised by what special needs you are open and equipped to meet.
Throughout the month, we’re focusing on what it looks like to parent a child with some of the most common — or most misunderstood — special needs among children waiting for families. These include cleft lip and palate, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, HIV, Thalassemia and — surprise! — older children. In international adoption, children who are 5 and older and still waiting for a family are also considered to have a “special need” simply because they require a little extra advocacy to find the right, loving family for them.
Over four weeks, you’ll learn facts that bust common myths about adopting a child with each of these special needs, read stories from families who share what parenting their child with this special need actually looks like, gain insight into the experiences of adoptees who have these special needs, see profiles of children with these special needs who are waiting, and much more!
You’ll learn that every child is an individual with unique challenges and unique strengths, and that their special need falls somewhere along a spectrum of minor or correctable to major and needing lifelong support. Somewhere along the way, you may also be surprised to learn that your family is the perfect fit for a child with special needs who is waiting.
But whether you are actively considering adoption, have already adopted or just have a heart for children and want to support our efforts, we need your help to make National Adoption Month a success, and to find as many families for children as possible. So follow along on Facebook and the Holt blog this National Adoption Month — share the posts that touch your heart and teach you something new about adopting a child with special needs, ask for more information and pray for the children on the waiting child photolisting.
Take action on behalf of children like Elizabeth, Tanner, Aubrey and Braxton and the hundreds of other children who need and deserve a permanent, loving family.
Excited about National Adoption Month? Here’s a special sneak-peak of some of the most common special needs that we’re going to talk about this November:
November 2-6: Cleft Lip & Palate
November 6-9: Down Syndrome
November 10-13: Cerebral Palsy
November 14-16: Developmental Delays
November 16-18: HIV
November 18-20: Thalassemia
November 20-29: Older Children