In Part 2 I'm going to talk about setting up therapy and medical care post adoption. I'm going share how to find state assistance programs that can help with the cost of medical care post-adoption. I'm going to spotlight a specific special need and share some information for researching that condition.
I'm also going to provide some links that I find helpful or I think are worth reading. A couple of those links will be about funding your adoption.
What else do you want to know about Special Needs adoption? Send me a question in the form below and I'll try my best to answer it! (You can share your name or make it anonymous! But if you'd like a private reply be sure to include your email).
Setting Up Medical Care Post Adoption
1. Contact specialists related to your child's diagnosis at your local children's hospital. You can find your local hospitals by going to the Children's Hospital Association website and searching for your state/area. If you go "additional criteria" you can search for specialists related to specific diagnosis's.
If your hospital has an International Adoption Clinic these are often a great place to start as they can make referrals to all the specialists you may need to see. The first couple of months after your child comes home is often crazy with medical appointments and and evaluations. Don't freak out, things level out and slow down eventually. The first couple of months tend to be the hardest!
2. Make contact with the pediatrician you plan to use prior to the child's homecoming to make sure they will see the child. Some pediatricians aren't comfortable seeing children will significant special needs, so find one who is.
Setting up Therapy (Physical, Occupational, Speech, Feeding, etc)
Children birth to 3 - Early Intervention. Contact your local board of Developmental Disabilities for more information. Early Intervention is a national program and is available in every state. Exact services offered vary by state/city. Evaluation is always free. If your child qualifies for services after evaluation, Early Intervention can provide therapies, auditory/hearing services, assistance with feeding, counseling, medical assistance, adaptive equipment, etc. In some states/cities these services are free. Other times fees are based on a sliding scale. You cannot be denied assistance based on inability to pay.
Children over 3. School district services. At age 3, the school district can take over with assistance for your child with special needs. In some states, you are eligible for itinerant services (you just take your child in for therapies) even if you homeschool. Contact your local board of developmental disabilities and/or school district for information on what is available in your area.
Children of all ages. Private therapies/services. If you have insurance you may be able to have therapy and services provided by a private provider. Contact your insurance to find out what services are covered in your plan.
State Programs for Assistance with Medical Costs
Some (many) states offer programs to assist with the cost of medical care, medication and equipment for families who qualify. This is typically called a program for children with special healthcare needs.
In Ohio this program is called Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH). In California it is called California Children's Services. Each state has their own name/program. You can search different states at this link.
In addition to state programs certain special needs may have other programs devoted to financial assistance. For example there are programs like Ryan White and co-pay assistance organizations for children who are HIV+.
Adopting a Child with Downs Syndrome
Downs Syndrome is a common special need seen in children waiting for families. Most of the children are waiting in Eastern Europe but occasionally you also see a waiting child in other countries with DS. Older children with DS are sometimes waiting here in the US fostercare system. Young, otherwise healthy babies with DS are often placed relatively quickly with families. But for children past infancy or in less popular adoption programs these children often wait a long time to be chosen for adoption.
Downs Syndrome comes with several physical traits: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Children with Downs Syndrome almost always have an intellectual disability as well, but the severity varies greatly. Some children have a near normal IQ, others are significantly mentally disabled.
Maybe now you’re asking, what is like parenting a child with Downs Syndrome? I don’t think there is any better way to know than to hear it right from the lips (or in this case, the fingertips!) of those who are doing it.
To be honest, parenting a child with Down syndrome really isn't much different than parenting any other child. There are certain health issues that can go along with Down syndrome, but thankfully with correct therapy, the right medical care, and lots of love, people with Down syndrome can live productive, full lives. I have a sister who was born with Down syndrome ten years ago. The best piece of advice we were given by her therapists were to never treat her differently. Expect the same things from her that we would expect from any other child, just expect it to take a little longer for her to get. Now, parenting our daughter who happens to have an extra chromosome as well, we live by that advice. Due to low muscle tone that goes along with Down syndrome, it will take her a bit longer to hit milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, and talking. We know, though, that all of those things are things she is capable of. At the same time we are teaching her, she is teaching us as well. She is teaching us to slow down. She is teaching us joy in the little things we usually take for granted. She is teaching us what a blessing Down syndrome truly is.” - Bridgette Boswell
Adeye Salem has a great blog series started where families who are parenting children with various special needs share their blogs and stories. You can find the Downs Syndrome page here: http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2013/06/adoption-awareness-down-syndrome.html
Here are some other helpful links to jump start your research:
Myths & Truths about Downs Syndrome http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Myths-Truths/
National Downs Syndrome Adoption Network http://www.ndsan.org/
Reece’s Rainbow http://reecesrainbow.org/
National Association for Downs Syndrome http://www.nads.org/