Young couple in wheelchair strolling in a park along the banks of the riverEvery family considering adoption is nervous at the beginning. The process is complex, and the emotional journey is monumental. This is life-changing stuff. It’s beautiful, but it’s also challenging.

Those feelings may only be amplified if you are a person (or couple) with differing abilities. You may be wondering if adoption is possible. We hear these questions often at American Adoptions:

  • Can a disabled person adopt a child?
  • I’m disabled and now considering adopting a child. Will I ever be chosen for an adoption opportunity?

It’s unfortunate that our society treats people differently based on their abilities. Parenthood is not an exclusive club or a dream only a few are able to grasp hold of. It is a dream that everyone — regardless of differing abilities or special needs — should have the right to pursue.

One of American Adoptions’ families, Keith and Jenn, illustrate this perfectly in their story. Keith uses a wheelchair due to a serious car accident, and they already had a son with disabilities when they began the adoption process. There were a lot of concerns on their part — especially about being chosen by a prospective birth mother.

As happens so often, the beauty of adoption surprised everyone. They were chosen by a birth mother and just “couldn’t stop smiling.”

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Jenn told American Adoptions. “It was amazing. I’m glad we got to share it with her, and she shared it with us. It was crazy, it was busy, it was chaotic, it was happy, it was a lot of unbelievable emotions —like this is it, this beautiful little girl.”

Jenn’s words capture so passionately the beauty of adoption, and their story shows that no level of differing ability has to hold you back from pursuing adoption. So, for anyone wondering if a disabled person can adopt a child, the answer is yes.

Here are a few more helpful things to consider about adoption and disabilities.

Be Honest About What You Are Prepared For

This is a statement that anyone considering adoption needs to hear, regardless of abilities. We like to be aspirational about our lives, and it is a good thing to dream big. When it comes to adoption, it’s vitally important to be honest with yourself about what you are equipped for.

As an adoptive family, you fill out something called an APQ, or Adoptive Planning Questionnaire. In it, you set the boundaries for your adoption. If, for instance, you know that you are not prepared to adopt a toddler, it’s best to be honest about only being ready to adopt a newborn baby.

As a parent considering adoption, think long and hard about how you are going to be able to care for a child, and if there are any situations you know wouldn’t work for you. This is meant in no way to discourage anyone from considering adoption. Rather, it is an encouragement to go into the adoption process with eyes wide open.

Work With an Agency That Believes in You

When a family decides to adopt, one of the first steps they will take is choosing an adoption professional to work with. There are several different types of adoption professionals, and there are even differences between organizations that are the same type of professional.

For instance, most families choose to work with an adoption agency. This is as opposed to an adoption law center or facilitator because agencies are held accountable by things like licensing and certification. However, all agencies are different. Some are local, and others are national. Some work specifically with domestic infant adoption, while others may serve international adoption. Within each subset, there are quality agencies doing great work.

As a parent with differing abilities, you want to make sure the professional you choose completely believes in you. Have they worked with parents who have disabilities before? What policies and practices do they have in place to protect you — like a Risk-Sharing Program or 24/7 availability? Do you feel respected and encouraged by your interactions with the agency? These are all things to look for. Working with the best adoption agency can make or break you time in the adoption process.

There Are Many Resources for You

Parenting is two things at once: one of life’s greatest joys and challenges. There will be moments when you can’t imagine anything better, and other times you feel completely overwhelmed. To navigate the mountaintops and valleys of this lifelong journey, you may need a little help.

There are many resources available online for parents who have disabilities, and there are most likely even more resources in your local community. To get started, here are a few helpful sites for parents with a disability who are considering adoption:

If you have more questions about adoption or concerns about adopting as a parent with disabilities, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak with an adoption specialist.