The decision for the special child

child's hand in old hand. (Bild: Angelina S./
Building up trust is important for any adopted child. (picture: Angelina S./

Even today, giving birth to a disabled child can be considered as great shame in many countries. However, some childless couples decide to adopt a child with a disability and giving them a news chance in life. Some thoughts.

Especially in the USA and the UK, there are several adoptions organisations that have specialised in placing children with disabilities from all over the world.

Negative or positive?

Now, people are in two minds about adoption, especially about adoption of disabled children. On one hand, there are the families desperately wanting a child and willing to give an orphaned and disabled child a new home and chance in life.

On the other hand, there are many dubious organisations that present the children on online lists like abandoned pets. And what is most concerning; there are people in the original countries that literally steal the children (or talk their poor parents over to give them away) to sell them to adoption centres.

This very problem is also quite known in normal adoptions and it is hard to prevent. However, this leads again to children in need for a new family and care.

Why a “defected” child?

While most future parents hope for a healthy child to be born, some foster parents are specially looking for a child with a disability, regardless that this can become very straining and expensive.

Some special needs are quite minor, while others require some kind of intervention or correction. Some children wait to be adopted due to a health issue requiring surgery, while others have chronic health issues.

So, what is the motivation? “We always have been lucky, so we wanted to give that luck to a child that hasn’t done anything wrong but being disabled to be refused by his or her parents!”, explains Carrie.

She and her husband Brend are the “forever parents” for five year old Mindy from Pakistan. She was born with a split spine (spina bifida) and was refused by her mother.

Brend names a second reason: “My brother was born with spina bifida too. I know that this can be hard but also that children born with split spines can lead a normal life if given to chance to!”

“Jill has given so much to us!”

The very same reason was also the one for Miranda and Gary from London to adopt a child with albinism. “My mother had the same condition and she was a strong lady!”, laughs Miranda.

“I read an article that children with albinism are murdered in Africa for their ‘lucky bones’. We wanted to rescue at least one girl from that horrible fate.”

After intense search, they have found an orphanage in Namibia for albinism children and there their future daughter, newborn baby girl Jill (eight today). Currently, the couple is in the process of adopting six year old twins from the same place. “Jill has given so much to us. We wanted to give other children the same chance for a great life”, explains Gary their reasons.

Abandoned and insecure

Disabled orphans mostly have experienced terrible things in their life like lack of care, lack of supervision, including neglect, or physical, emotional or sexual abuse, as well as separation and of course the loss from their birth family. The majority of the children waiting for new families, including babies and infants, have specific emotional needs due to their early life experiences.

Therefore, it is very important and difficult to find a family that can really care for the child and that will not give up the child again when facing the first challenges. Among others, the British organisation Be My Parent is aware of this issue and is especially taking care of it. On their website, many guide sheets are published. They are worth a look for any parent thinking about adopting a child.

A new chance

If the foster parents make sure that their future child really is an orphan that needs a new family, adoption of a disabled child can be a great experience for both the parents and the child, maybe even for the original family that could not be financially liable for the care the child needed.

To make this sure, interested people should be careful in their choice of adoption centre and that child was not sold or kidnapped, and only trust in certified organisations.

Carrie can be sure of that: “We love her daughter for what she had been abandoned for: being a disabled girl". Mindy was placed by a national certified organisation. 

All names of parents and children withheld

Text: M. Plattner -09/2011