If you’re considering becoming a foster parent or adopting a child from the foster care system, you may have heard that most of these children fit into the category of “special needs.” If you’re accustomed to society’s usual definition of this term, you might think the only children available to adopt have serious physical, mental, medical or developmental disabilities.
However, a “special needs” adoption means something much different than what society’s general definition of the term means. “Special needs,” when referring to adoption, simply means any child who is less likely to get adopted than other children because of a certain aspect they can’t control.
Generally, there are a few traits that can cause a child to be categorized as having “special needs”:
- They are non-white
- They are older than a certain age (in Texas, this is 6 years)
- They are part of a sibling group
- They have developmental, emotional or physical disabilities
As you can see, “special needs” can mean a variety of things — and, as long as you’re prepared for the trait that makes a child fit this description, adopting a special needs child in Texas really isn’t all that different from adopting any other child.
All prospective foster parents and adoptive parents must go through specific trainings if they plan to find a child placement through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and many of these trainings address the unique needs of children you may wish to adopt. This includes everything from the logistics of adopting a teenager to preparing for a transracial adoption and more. Your social worker from the child welfare agency you choose will also likely be able to provide you extra resources, should you need them.
It’s important to note that a special needs adoption in Texas doesn’t have to be completed through the foster care system; you may choose to adopt a special needs child through a private domestic infant adoption or through an international adoption. In addition, you may be able to receive financial assistance for a special needs adoption in Texas.
State Assistance for Special Needs Adoption
There are many children waiting in the foster care system who can be described as special needs — and, therefore, are much less likely to get adopted. That’s why many states, including Texas, offer families assistance with their adoption expenses if they choose to adopt one of these children. Additionally, the adoption subsidy may be available to some families pursuing special needs adoption through an agency.
In Texas, adoptive parents can receive up to $1,200 per adopted child to cover the costs of non-recurring adoption expenses (usually legal fees). Combine this with the federal adoption tax credit also available and, for many adoptive families, choosing to complete a special needs adoption in Texas is very inexpensive or even free. Your child may also be eligible for state Medicaid coverage until your own family insurance takes effect.
In addition to financial assistance, the Department of Family and Protective Services offers postadoption services to those adopting a special needs child, including:
- Case management and service planning
- Support groups and outpatient therapy
- Respite care
- Information and referral to appropriate professionals
- And more
If you are completing a private domestic infant adoption or an international adoption through an agency, your professionals there will also likely provide you some sort of training and post-adoption services. So, if you’re considering adopting a child with special needs (whether in the traditional or foster care sense of the word), seek out an adoption professional who can provide these services to you.
Remember, the law firm of Brown Pruitt and our attorneys can always answer whatever questions you have about the legal process of adopting a special needs child in Texas, whichever kind of adoption path you choose. We can also refer you to a trusted adoption matching professional to help you find the perfect adoption situation for your family. To learn more or to start your adoption process today, please give us a call at 817-338-4888.