Finding Families for Children in Thailand With Special Needs

This month, three Holt staff members will travel throughout Thailand to assess 130 children who are eligible for adoption through the Thailand Special Needs Program. 

Thailand trip packing

Right now, I’m packing my suitcase, preparing for a 24-hour flight and an exhausting two weeks in Thailand. But I can’t wait!

Over the next three weeks, I will travel around the country to visit 12 orphanages and over 130 children who are waiting for families. Holt’s clinical social worker for our south and southeast Asia programs, Zoila Lopez, as well as Jennifer Nelson, Holt’s adoption services coordinator for Asia programs, will travel with me. And together, we will get to know these children so that we can better advocate for them once home.

Each of these children is eligible for adoption through Holt’s new Thailand Special Needs Program! 

Eligibility requirements for the standard Thailand program are fairly restrictive — meaning fewer families are eligible to adopt through this program. But the Special Needs program is much more flexible! If you were not eligible for the standard program, we encourage you to connect with us about this special needs program as it might just be the right fit for your family!

While in Thailand, we will meet one on one with each child to determine their needs and what kind of family they would best be matched with. Then upon returning home, we’ll advocate for them to be placed with the loving, permanent family who can best meet their needs.

Thailand special needs adoption program
Last year Celeste went on this same advocacy trip to Thailand, assessing children to determine the best type of adoptive family for them to be matched with!

I went on this same advocacy trip last year and I was overwhelmed by the number of children who are waiting. I was also surprised that many of their “special needs” might not be a huge deal for most families.

While many of the younger children have moderate to major special needs, there were also many children with special needs that would be considered minor in the U.S. Last year, medicated ADHD and developmental delays topped the list of the most common identified needs among these kids. Their only additional “special need” was that they were older in age.

These older kids especially stand out to me because my own son, Max — who we adopted from Thailand two years ago when he was 9 years old —  fits this description exactly. He has thrived since coming home and has brought so much joy to our family. I hope other kids like him will have the same chance to be loved and thrive within the care of a family.

I am also so excited to see the children we met last year. I know I’m not supposed to, but I do have a few favorites and I can’t wait to see them again and see how much they have grown! We’re still looking for families for these kids, and I hope that I can learn more about them so that we can find them the right adoptive family. And of course, I am excited to meet children who are new to this special needs program and work to find them the permanent, loving family they so need and deserve. 

In summary, here are the most important things I want you to know about the Thailand Special Needs Program:

  1. The Thailand Special Needs Program has more flexible parent eligibility! Wondering if you’re eligible? Contact Kristen Henry at kristenh@holtinternational.org.

  2. After this advocacy trip, we will have detailed notes and information about each of the 130 children in the program! That means that unlike many of the other children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, we will have specific information and a thorough assessment of each of these children that we personally and directly gathered.

  3. There is a wide range in the definition of “special needs,” many of which are minor for older kids!

As we travel across Thailand this November — which is also National Adoption Month! — we will regularly share about these kids on Holt’s Facebook and Instagram pages! We’ll also update this post with all of the kids we feature throughout the month! Because of Thailand’s child protection guidelines, we can’t share photos that identify the children. But we will do everything we can to show you and tell you as much as possible about these amazing kids.

I invite you to follow along and I hope that your heart is open as you learn about these children. And hopefully, in the near future, we can talk more about how your family might be the perfect fit for a child from this program.

Celeste Snodgrass, LCSW | Director of Clinical Services

To learn more about the kids in this program and whether or not your family is eligible, contact Kristen Henry at kristenh@holtinternational.org. You can also check out the SE Asia tab of our waiting child photolisting to meet some of these kids! 

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