Every 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:
- The Disabled Parenting Project
- The Arc: For Parents with an Intellectual Disability
- The Center for Parent Information & Resources
- National Council on Disability
- Social Security Disabilities Benefits Guide
- American Adoptions’ Free Resources
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.
My husband and I are looking into adoption. Aside from the fact that its costly, my disability worries us too. Whether it would disqualify us or not. I just started receiving disability, but was disabled well before I even got pregnant with my first. I have a seizure disorder. I cant drive. It’s hard to hold a job because of my lack of license mostly. But I was able to care for my son just fine, even as an infant. Hes 8 now. It just took extra precautions. But we did fine. So my question is will the fact that I’m disabled and collecting disability disqualify me from adopting? Please just be bluntly honest. Don’t sugar coat your answer.
Hi, Stacy — We encourage you to call one of our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION for more information about our adoption requirements. They can give you the best information for your situation.
I have been thinking about adoption for some time but with my disabilities and the costs with me being a single woman I just don’t know if I can. I was adopted when I was a baby and I’m unable to have my own children due to health conditions but would love to have kids.
Hi, Bili — We encourage you to reach out to our adoption specialists any time at 1-800-ADOPTION for more information on adoption in your situation. Thanks!
If I have epilepsy can I adopt a child or baby
Hi, Sara — This answer will ultimately be up to your home study professional. They will review any medical recommendations from your doctor to determine if epilepsy is a qualifying factor for the adoption process. We encourage you to speak with your doctor first, and then search for a local home study professional here: https://www.1-800-homestudy.com/
I’ve just recently started thinking about adoption. I had a miscarriage when I was 28 and again when I was 38 both times probably weren’t the most positive times to have a baby with the father I was with. I’m now 44, single and disabled and wondering if I would even be able to adopt because of those reasons. My disabilities do keep me from
Being able to hold a job, however I own my own house and care for myself alone with some outside help from family if I feel I need it at times. My biggest problem is walking I have hip, knee and foot problems which cause me difficulty walking, but I manage getting around and I do drive. I’m just curious if my situation would disqualify me from adopting?
Hi there- I was wanted to reply your comment as I am in same boat and seeking out same information. Im 42 and had failed pregnancy multiple IUI attempts..single and disabled. I hope there is an option for us …