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Giving Hope to the Hopeless 1

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 2 The Need of Every Child “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world !"ames 1:2# $nglish %tandard &ersion'( )he adoption of children with special needs is a perfect picture of the Gospel( "ust as God has accepted us into His famil* through the blood of His %on, He has called us to take care of the “least of these in the world and adopt children with special needs into our families who are living in poor circumstances without hope( +s children of God, we need to commit to do ever*thing possible to take care of these precious orphans in our societ*( )his includes placing them in permanent homes where the* can be nurtured, cared for, and loved unconditionall*( ,nfortunatel*, however, too man* special needs adoptions end in dissolution or disruption due to man* factors facing the child and the adoptive famil*( -e cannot afford to continue placing children with special needs in unsuccessful adoptions( )hese children and families need resources to aid them throughout the adoption process and after the adoption process in order to help ensure a successful adoption( Special Needs Adoptions .an* children waiting for adoption are labeled as “special needs due to various circumstances in their lives: “special needs adoptees are generall* considered to be /children who have e0perienced ph*sical and se0ual abuse and1or severe neglect, children with ph*sical or emotional disabilities, children who are older than one *ear2 and children who are members of a sibling group who are placed with the same adoptive famil* !%chweiger p( 312'( )hese children are too often unwanted b* potential adoptive families due to older age and the risks accompanied with adopting a child with special needs( $ven when children with special needs are placed in an adoptive homes, there is a large possibilit* of failure during or after the legal adoption and the

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 4 child having to return to the child welfare s*stem( )he dissolution or disruption of an adoption can have a devastating effect on children, especiall* children with special needs( Adoption Dissolutions and Disruptions + failed adoption results in either a dissolution or a disruption( + dissolution occurs when an adoption is terminated before the legal process is complete, and a disruption occurs when an adoption is terminated after the adoption process has been legall* completed( -hen disruptions occur children are returned to the child welfare s*stem( .ultiple placements and failed adoptions are traumatic for these children and decrease the likelihood of them ever being adopted( .an* children who go through multiple foster care families, failed adoptions, etc sta* in the child welfare s*stem until the* are considered legal adults( )hese children do not get to e0perience stable home environments and, therefore, have a higher likelihood of failing to reach academic, career, and famil* goals( )here are man* reasons the adoptions of children with special needs fail( + close e0amination of these causes will reveal areas of improvement and wa*s for communities to use resources to help children with special needs and their adoptive families( “5hild characteristics, parent6child interactions, famil* cohesion, parental ad7ustment, and adoption service issues can all contribute to adoption disruptions !.cGlone and %antos p( 131'( Child Characteristics 5hallenges and characteristics particular to the child in a special needs adoption can be a stressor and issue within the adoptive famil*( 8f the child has a ph*sical, emotional, or cognitive disabilit*, financial burdens, time re9uired to manage the disabilit*, and other medical issues can be stressors for the adoptive famil*( )he cost of caring for a child with disabilities can be great due to the necessit* of multiple doctors, treatment, medicine, therap*, etc( 8f families do not receive ade9uate financial support after adopting a child with special needs, “these difficulties in

Giving Hope to the Hopeless : access to health care and other needed services could pose a potential problem for adoptive families ad7usting to the new adoption !.c;onald, <ropp, and .urph* p( =>'( <h*sical and mental disabilities can re9uire a large amount of time to care for the child on a dail* basis( -hen ever*da* tasks become difficult chores to complete with children who have special needs, the entire famil* ma* become stressed, putting strain again on the relationship with the adopted child and the perception of the adoption( .an* of these children also have emotional and behavioral issues due to their past life e0periences( “.ultiple pre6adoptive risk factors, which are often seen in combination, such as older age at the time of adoption, histor* of maltreatment, and out6of6home placement have been associated with problematic behaviors and emotional difficulties !?ramer and Houston p( @2>'( 5hildren who have suffered e0treme emotional trauma can have ma7or attachment issues( Aehavior issues can stem out of their reactions to their past e0periences confronting their present e0periences in their adoptive families( Bften, parents struggle the most with behavior issues after special needs adoptions due to a lack of preparation and unrealistic e0pectations( +ll of these challenges can have effects on the interaction between parent and child( Parent-Child Interactions .a7or conflict can occur when “the childCs emotional and behavioral problems Dcollide withE the parentCs unrealistic e0pectations !Forbes and ;Fiegielewski p( 4>='( 5ommunication issues and disobedience can be e0tremel* stressful to parents and a result in part of past traumatic e0periences( .an* parents can be overwhelmed b* a strong need for attention and the greatness of emotional needs, while others face the issue of withdrawn and absent children( 5hildren react and respond differentl* as a result of their past e0periences, and unfortunatel*, man* parents are not prepared to deal with the seemingl* abnormal and difficult behaviors the* encounter after

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 3 adopting a child with special needs !Hansen p( ::>'( .an* parents do not realiFe the man* hurdles the famil* will have to work overcome with the adopted child due to past e0periences and trauma( )oo often these parents are not told enough about the past circumstances of their adopted child or the* are not ade9uatel* prepared to deal with the issues which arise !%ilverstein and RosFia p( @4='( Bverall, parent6child relations will not onl* affect the adopted child and the parents, but the cohesion of the entire famil*( Family Cohesion “8n addition to child risk factors, several studies associate famil* characteristics with differences in adoption ad7ustment, including the number of parents, the presence and number of adopted and1or biological children, timing of entr* into the famil* !-ind p( :@'( Bne of the biggest issues in adoptive families can be the ad7usting of children alread* living in the home to the new brother or sister( .an* families ma* face prolonged sibling ad7ustment, sibling rivalr*, birth6children or previousl* adopted children receiving less attention, and a lack of resources available to siblings of children adopted with special needs( -hen a strong famil* cohesion fails to form, tensions become high between each famil* member and ma* cause resentment towards the adopted child, resulting in a disrupted adoption( Parental Adjustment “<arents e0pressed stress from the e0tra workload, new routines, childCs food preferences, becoming a new parent of an older child, and the restructuring of home life((( finding time for themselves as a couple((( and a lack of needed respite care((( also issues related to the birth6 famil* !.cGlone and %antos p( 1@3'( 8f parents become overwhelmed b* stress and do not receive the support needed from their adoptive agenc* and the communit*, the famil* is at a higher risk for a failed adoption(

Giving Hope to the Hopeless @ Adoptions Service Issues “+ ma7or factor in the problem of disruption is the lack of therap* and mental health resources to support the adoptive famil* !GroFe and Gruenwald p( 3G2'( 8ssues before, during, and after the adoption between agencies and families can have detrimental effects on the success of adoptions( Following adoption, man* families stated that “the* were not provided all the information the* wished that the* had received during the adoption process !-ind p( :G'( .an* families also feel the adoption placement and legal finaliFation is a rushed process, placing the child, adoptive famil*, and agenc* under unneeded stress( +ccording to the 5hild -elfare Heague of +merica, a lack of support and partnership between agencies and families often results in ma7or issues for families such as financial, emotional, medical, and therap* resources( The Cost of Failed Special Needs Adoptions )he cost of failed adoptions hurts ever*one, especiall* the children in need of home( 5hildren classified as “special needs are less likel* to be adopted, and “the longer children wait for adoption, the longer the* continue to wait !%ullivan and Freundlich p( 3>G'( )hese children cannot afford to be placed in a home and later lose their new home due to a breakdown in our adoption s*stem( -e need to commit to helping children with special needs and their families achieve health* adoptive families through serving them in all areas of life( Needs Prior To and Durin the Adoption Process Bpenness in adoption from all parties is a huge need for children and families in order to begin a successful adoption process( +gencies should be open with families about past e0periences, cognitive disabilities, ph*sical disabilities, emotional impairments, behavior issues, and birth6famil* information in order to give perspective families a full, accurate picture of the adoptee( <erspective families should also be open with the adoption agenc* regarding famil*

Giving Hope to the Hopeless # structure, goals for the adoption, concerns regarding the adoption, and their determination to find resources for their child after adoption( -hen involved in the adoption process, birth6families should provide an* information regarding famil* structure, sibling bonds, etc( 8n addition to openness, a thorough assessment of the adoptive famil* should be completed to evaluate the potential of the famil* to provide for the childCs needs through a permanent adoption( Bnce the famil* has been cleared for adoption, the* should be provided with “educational material that will promote better understanding of the challenges adoptive families encounter and realistic e0pectations of adoptive parents !<err* and Henr* p( 33>'( Families should also be given a list of resources available to them in the communit* prior to adoption( Groups for perspective adoptive parents can help families begin to form supportive relationships and friendships outside of the adoption agenc*( )he e0tent and effectiveness of pre6 adoption services are a strong predictor about the potential success of a special needs adoption: “a thorough assessment of a childCs developmental needs and the perspective adoptive famil*Cs abilit* to meet those needs !-ind p( @:'( Support Needed After Adoption “Families t*picall* report that the* need such services as parent support groups, group services for older children, informal contact with other special needs families, adoption subsidies, and respite care !.c;onald and <ropp p( #4'( <roviding families with ade9uate support following a special needs adoption can help ensure the success of the adoption and a permanent home for a child in need( Parent Support !roups

Giving Hope to the Hopeless G <arent support groups can provide parents with a safe place to lean on each other and share ideas( )hese support groups will allow parents to share their stress and worries with other parents who understand the heartache and struggles the* are facing( !roup Services for "lder Children Group services for older children can help children with special needs develop social skills and form friendships with other children similar to them( )hese services can also help get children with special needs involved in the communit* through preparing them for higher education, emplo*ment, and other life skills( Groups services can also help children with special needs cope with traumatic e0periences in their pasts( Group services can also help siblings in these families cope with their changing famil* circumstances and added stress and responsibilities( Informal Contact #ith "ther Special Needs Families 8nformal contact with other special needs families can help adoptive families realiFe and remember that the* are not alone in their struggles( )his can provide families with a much needed support s*stem and place to rela0( Adoption Su$sidies +n adoption subsid* is a financial pa*ment or services given to an adoptive famil* to aid them in providing for their adopted child( )hese can be especiall* helpful to families who adopt children with special needs because the* will likel* re9uire more medical care, therap*, and support than other children( %espite Care 8n home care, bab*sitting, or respite care is one of the greatest needs of families who have adopted a child or children with special needs( )he blessing of having an hour or two awa* from

Giving Hope to the Hopeless = the stress associated with ever*da* life can provide these parents with hope and the will to power through the tough da*s and overcome the curse of adoption dissolution or disruption( A Need for Community .ore than an*thing, these families need communit*6 communit* to lean on, communit* to encourage and re7uvenate them, a communit* filled with people who care and love the child God picked out to become a special part of their famil*, no matter what the struggles and challenges ma* be( )hese families need a communit* where the* can “live in a communit* alongside other foster and adoptive parents, senior citiFen volunteers, tutors, therapists, mentors, and famil* advocates, and receive e0tensive communit* supports !?ramer and Houston p( @11'( Providin Permanent &omes for Children #ith Special Needs %pecial needs adoptions that end in dissolution or disruption are traumatic on the child involved and force them back into the child welfare s*stem where the* wait to be adopted for *ears and often never receive a forever home( )he statistics surrounding dissolution and disruptions must be reversed if we want to give orphans with special needs the families and support s*stems the* desperatel* need( )hrough providing adoptive families and children with special need with e0cellent adoption preparation and e0tensive supports following adoptions, we can fight dissolution and disruption( A Prayer for These Children .* pra*er is that ever* child with special needs with be adopted into a loving famil* who understands that “with compassion, *ou can look inside *our childCs heart and recogniFe the impairments and deep fear that drive maladaptive behavior6 fears of abandonment, hunger, being in an unfamiliar environment, losing control, and being hurt((( ?eeping compassion as our

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 1> reference point encourages us to have patience and stamina to keep tr*ing on the toughest da*s !<urvis and 5ross p( @'(

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 11 References +sbur*, $(, 5ross, ;( R(, I -aggenspack, A( !2>>4'( Aiological, +doptive, and .i0ed Families: %pecial Jeeds and the 8mpact of the 8nternational +doption( Adoption 'uarterly, (!1', 346#2( Aelanger, ?(, 5opeland, %(, I 5heung, .( !2>>G'( )he role of faith in adoption: achieving positive adoption outcomes for +frican +merican children( Child )elfare, *(!2', ==6 124( Auckles, ?( %( !2>14'( +doption %ubsidies and <lacement Butcomes for 5hildren in Foster 5are( +ournal "f &uman %esources, ,*!4', 3=@6@2#( <err*, 5( H(, I Henr*, .( "( !2>>='( Famil* and <rofessional 5onsiderations for +doptive <arents of 5hildren with %pecial Jeeds( -arria e . Family %evie#, ,/!3', 34G6 3@3( Forbes, H(, I ;Fiegielewski, %( !2>>4'( 8ssues facing adoptive mothers of children with special needs( +ournal "f Social )or0, 1!4', 4>1642>( GroFe, &(, I Gruenewald, +( !1==1'( <+R)J$R%: + .odel <rogram for %pecial6Jeeds +doptive Families in %tress( Child )elfare, (2!3', 3G163G=( Hansen, .( !2>>G'( )he %tructure of Families -ho +dopt 5hildren From Foster 5are( +ournal "f Pu$lic Child )elfare, 3!:', :2#6::=( ?ramer, H(, I Houston, ;( !1==='( Hope for the children: a communit*6based approach to supporting families who adopt children with special needs( Child )elfare, (*!3', @116@43( .cdonald, )(, <ropp, "(, I .urph*, ?( !2>>1'( )he postadoption e0perience: child, parent, and famil* predictors of famil* ad7ustment to adoption( Child )elfare, *2!1', #16=:(

Giving Hope to the Hopeless 12 .cGlone, ?atalina, Hinda %antos, H*nne ?aFama, Rowena Fong, and 5harles .ueller( 2>>2( K<s*chological %tress in +doptive <arents of %pecial6Jeeds 5hildren(K Child )elfare G1, 2>14'( .ullin, $(, I "ohnson, H( !1==='( )he Role of Airth1<reviousl* +dopted 5hildren in Families 5hoosing to +dopt 5hildren with %pecial Jeeds( Child )elfare, (*!3', 3#=63=1( <urvis, ?(, I 5ross, ;( !2>>G'( )he 5onnected 5hild( Jew Lork: .cGraw Hill( Reill*, )(, I <latF, H( !2>>:'( <ost6+doption %ervice Jeeds of Families with %pecial Jeeds 5hildren: ,se, Helpfulness, and ,nmet Jeeds( +ournal "f Social Service %esearch, 12!:', 316@#( no( 2: 13161#1( Academic Search Premier, $A%5Bhost !accessed Jovember 23,

Rosenthal, "(, I GroFe, &( !1==:'( + Hongitudinal %tud* of %pecial6Jeeds +doptive Families( Child )elfare, (1!@', @G=6#>@( Rosenthal, "(, GroFe, &(, I +guilar, G( !1==1'( +doption Butcomes for 5hildren with Handicaps( Child )elfare, (2!@', @246@4@( %chweiger, -( ?(, I BMArien, .( !2>>='( %pecial Jeeds +doption: +n $cological %*stems +pproach( Family %elations, /,!:', 3126322( %ilverstein, ;(, I RosFia, %( !1==='( Bpenness: + 5ritical 5omponent of %pecial Jeeds +doption( Child )elfare, (*!3', @4#6@31( %ullivan, +(, I Freundlich, .( !1==='( +chieving $0cellence in %pecial Jeeds +doption( Child )elfare, (*!3', 3>#631#( -ind, H( H(, Arooks, ;(, I Aarth, R( <( !2>>G'( +doption <reparation: ;ifferences Aetween +doptive Families of 5hildren -ith and -ithout %pecial Jeeds( Adoption 'uarterly, *!:', :36#:(