The actual timeline varies greatly, but we’ve been told between 1 year to 18 months. We have the home study process and educational portion to finish before we go anywhere. That’s minimum 6 months. Then we look at profiles and learn about potential matches for our family. This could take a very long time if we set our scope of willingness very small. For example, if we said we would like a healthy Caucasian boy with brown hair and no history of any physical or mental illness in the birth parents, well…we would wait for ever! but that’s not even close to what our scope of willingness looks like. Shall I tell you about it?
“Are you open to special needs?”
YES! I’m super excited to share that! Our heart is for children who are orphans or unparented and especially those with special needs! One of the forms we fill out is a huge questionnaire asking us about our willingness to consider certain special needs. We checked off loads of boxes! Definitely our heart is for children with Down Syndrome! We are very interested in children who have hearing loss or are deaf or children with speech delays like cleft palate. My background is in speech and behavior intervention, so that will be very useful. We are willing to consider a huge amount of other special needs too. Autism Spectrum Disorder, HIV+, Hepatitis B, club foot or other physical disabilities, special diet issues, allergies (not a hard one to check off), and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder too. (someone asked “how many children are affected by FASD?”, and I couldn’t even guess other that to say that many, many, many children who are in a position of needing to be adopted are likely to have some form of fetal alcohol effects)
Do you know what you are getting into?
Before anyone writes me a letter saying we don’t know what we’re getting into when we checked off FASD, realize that we didn’t come to this decision easily. In fact, to begin with FASD was on the no list. Even still, we didn’t check off profound FASD. We also are not saying we are hoping for a child with 10 co-morbid special needs and extreme violent tenancies. We are just saying we are willing for God to show us who is supposed to fit into our family. We aren’t flipping a coin about this either. We have a solid support network around us who we will take any possible matches to and discuss and pray with.
Another thing I’ll add to that is that we don’t know what we are in for! We are doing our best to have our eye’s wide open about special needs and not pretend we know everything or are ready for everything either. Like HIV+ for example. Until Reece’s Rainbow did a great job of pointing me to Project Hopeful and I got informed, I had HUGE misconceptions about HIV+. We also know that you really cant be prepared for everything, not even with bio kiddos. We had no idea what to do with a preemie when Em was born. Or a better example is my awesome friend Leah whose son has Autism. She wasn’t prepared or ready for that, but she and her hubby do an amazing job of parenting him, becoming experts on Autism and advocating for him and his needs. Go read her blog right now!! We can’t be prepared completely, but we are studying and learning and whenever we find out what actual needs our child(ren) have, we will become experts and work our butts off. That’s just part of who we are.
More Q&A’s tomorrow!! Keep those questions coming!