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The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) defines adoption as "a legal process that creates a lifelong relationship between a parent and a child who are not biologically related. The adoption of a child is approved by the Court and adoptive parents receive an adoption decree and birth certificate acknowledging that the child is a legal family member with all the rights and privileges of a birth child."
In adoption, the term "special needs" is defined broadly and may vary by state. In general, children with special needs have a more difficult time finding families to adopt them. These children:
The American Academy of Pediatrics further defines children with special healthcare needs as "those who have or are at risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally."
Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information on each state's definition of special needs and a fact sheet on adopting a child with special needs.
You will need to gather information and make some important decisions when you decide to adopt a child with special needs:
While every experience may be unique depending on the family, children and agency, there are certain steps that are usually taken between considering adoption and successfully welcoming a child with special health care needs into your family:
The home study is a comprehensive evaluation of you, your family and your home environment. Information is usually gathered by a social worker and is generally a required screening step in approving you as an adoptive parent.
Adoption.com has information on adopting children with special needs.
Adoption Services has information on all phases of the adoption process.
AdoptUSKids has detailed information on the steps in adoption.
Child Welfare Information Gateway provides extensive information on the adoption process, a fact sheet on adopting children with developmental disabilities and resources to support the adoption of children with special needs.
Kentucky Adoption Coalition provides access to adoption resources, medical and legal assistance, counseling and advocacy.
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP) provides information on the adoption process.
MedlinePlus has information on the adoption process.
National Adoption Center has helped find adoptive families for more than 20,000 children in the United States. They have information on the adoption process as well as extensive resources.
North American Council on Adoptable Children provides information on the steps in the adoption process as well as a list of supporting resources.
Ohio Adoption Guide, published by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, provides a comprehensive overview of adoption in Ohio.
Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has a fact sheet on adoption.
Ohio Legal Services provides answers to common questions about adoption.
Ohio State Bar Association answers frequently asked questions about adoption.
There are several ways to adopt a typical child or one with special needs:
A closed adoption is sometimes called a traditional adoption where the birthparents and the adoptive parents do not know each other's identity, either before or after the adoption.
In an open adoption, birthparents and adoptive parents usually exchange information, sometimes meet each other and agree to maintain some contact after the adoption.
A public agency is supervised by a state or local Department of Health and Human Services and often has children with special needs who are looking for adoptive families. A public agency usually has more flexible eligibility requirements for adoptive parents and will often consider single parents, older parents and parents with low incomes. Placement of a child can occur in as little as a few months following a home study and approval. Because many foster parents adopt children that have been placed in their care, you may be approved as a licensed foster parent as well as a prospective adoptive parent in the same process.
A private agency is supervised by a privately funded, licensed adoption agency, usually works with infants from the local area or neighboring states, and sometimes handles children with special needs. A private agency may have specific requirements on who can adopt, based on race, religion or age. Placement can take longer, often up to a few years following a home study and approval.
An independent adoption or private adoption is usually arranged through an individual, often an attorney, physician, friend or adoption counselor and can sometimes be risky and expensive. In addition, each State may have its own specific requirements. Findlaw has information on adoptions and legal assistance.
North American Council on Adoptable Children compares different types of adoptions.
When choosing an adoption agency, one of the first important things for you to find out is if the agency is licensed. Contact them and ask for their license number and the name and telephone number of the licensing authority. Call the licensing authority and confirm that the agency is in good standing.
Take the time to find a public or private agency that is a good match for you. Interview an agency representative to learn more about them:
Ohio Adoption Guide has an extensive list of questions to ask potential agencies.
International adoptions can be a more complicated process than U.S. adoptions, with additional paperwork, waiting lists, health concerns and foreign country laws.
If you adopted your child in a foreign country, the Probate Court of Hamilton County allows the adoptive parents to receive an Ohio Adoption Decree and an Ohio Birth Certificate. This is called a readoption procedure and can be granted after 6 months from the date of the foreign decree of adoption. You can find additional information from the Probate Court of Hamilton County in Ohio. You can find addition information on readoption:
Child Welfare Information Gateway
We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.
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