Adopting a Child with “Special Needs” in Alabama
In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources recruits and prepares families willing to open their hearts and homes to children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Many of these children are designated as having special needs. Some may require extra guidance to help them realize their full potential, while others may require more dedicated care and attention because of physical, mental or emotional issues. Special needs children include:
- Generally healthy, average children who are over the age of eight
- Children with a background of parental substance abuse, mental illness or mental retardation that places them at risk
- Children with various degrees of mental, physical or emotional problems
- Sibling groups of three or more to be placed together
As you can see, the phrase “special needs” can apply to many children adopted from foster care, and not just those with a disability or defined syndrome. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states that “the term ‘special needs’ is almost universally disliked by adoption professionals and youth in foster care because of its potential to be misunderstood and its negative connotations.”
When you adopt from the Department of Human Resources, the Department charges no fees for the adoption home study, which includes 30 hours of training, or for the placement of children. Expenses are generally limited to the costs of criminal history record checks and obtaining medical records and/or evaluations on all household family members. Children with special needs may qualify for financial assistance, called adoption subsidy, and Medicaid.
When You May Consider Adopting a Child with Special Needs
If you are having difficulty adopting a child, expanding your search to children designated as having special needs can greatly increase your options. Many of these children simply need a parent’s love, patience and commitment to thrive. However, in some cases, successfully parenting a child with special needs may require extra time to meet the child’s needs, the ability to advocate for the child, and access to medical care, early intervention and other services.
A family law attorney with experience handling adoptions in Alabama is a valuable resource if you are considering your options for adoption or if you have already started the process or received notice that you may be eligible to adopt a foster child.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in North Alabama
As you move through the adoption process, there may be obstacles and disappointments; however, with some perseverance, you can make an extraordinary difference in a child’s life. If you live in the Huntsville area and need help with adoption, contact Alabama family law attorney Lana Hawkins in Guntersville, Huntsville, and Arab for knowledgeable, supportive advice and representation.