If you are considering adoption you might be wondering whether or not you are up to parenting a child with special needs. The term Special Needs can cover anything from emotional disorders like oppositional defiant disorder to medically fragile children. MeLisa from Adoptive Legacy discusses how important it is to know what you’re getting into as parents of special needs children.
Child With Special Needs- VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:
Hi, I’m MeLisa Lomelino and today I’m going to answer the question, Should I adopt a child with special needs? When you begin the process to adopt you discover there is a new vocabulary that goes along with it. One of those buzz words you’ll hear a lot is special needs. The first thing you need to know is that special needs is a very broad term. It covers everything from medical to behavioral needs as well as emotional issues and learning disabilities. So, if the child you’re considering adopting has been labeled with special needs, your first step is to pinpoint the exact need.
When I became an adoptive parent 15 years ago I didn’t want to “label” my kids. I didn’t want to be told what my child couldn’t accomplish. I’m a type A personality, so of course I believed that anything could be fixed. If only I knew then what I know now. What I’ve come to learn is that diagnosing or labeling a special need, means that I am better able to help my child. Understanding my special needs child allows me to align my expectations which makes me far less frustrated on a daily basis.
Each of our 6 adopted children has at least one special need. Does that make me love them less? Well, that’s just silly. Are there people in your life right now that you love less because of a need they have? Of course not, You love them, you accept them and more often than not, you want to help them. And why? Because you love them. So when a prospective parent is considering adopting a special needs child the first thing I ask them is “What do you think you can handle?” Again with my personality I thrive on challenges, but not everyone is as crazy as I am.
How do you think you’d cope with a child who has a physical illness? A child with ADHD or Bi-polar? Can you parent a child with a severe past trauma that will require intense counseling? Ask yourself these hard hitting questions and be honest. For me I don’t feel qualified to parent a child with a severe medical need. I barely want to know what’s going on with my own body. I hear a lot of people say “Well birth parents don’t get to choose if their child has a special need.” They’re right. They don’t. You do.
There are many challenges when raising adopted children. If you know that you can’t handle something right up front, then don’t set you both up for failure. Like I said for me, it’s medical needs. Maybe for you it’s behavioral issues. If you are a passive person it is going to be extremely difficult for you to raise a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Odds are the child you adopt will have at least one special need. Do your homework, learn about special needs and be honest about how much you think you can handle. Talk with other adoptive parents about the joys AND challenges of raising their child with special needs.
Now, there are no guarantees that your child won’t have hidden special needs discovered later on. But, because you love your child, you will rise to the challenge to help them meet that need. I just want your relationship with your child to start from a point of strength, with you at your best. We can’t help anyone when we take on more than we can handle. We have several videos that discuss special needs and our experiences with them. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more.
Parenting a child with special needs is not hopeless. It’s actually just the opposite. If you know what you’re dealing with then you know how to deal with it. My nightstand is piled high with books on special needs. I am always learning ways to better help my child. I want to educate them about the obstacle they face and for them to live a fulfilling life. Choosing to adopt a child with special needs takes a special parent. Only with your love, dedication and hard work can your child reach their highest potential.
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