Adopting a child with special needs is a process which is going to be demanding, both emotionally and financially. No doubt, during the process you will have the emotional support of your family. However, how do you finance the process which can be long and expensive. Do you need to pay for everything yourself? Well, the answer is maybe not! Help is at hand in the form of adoption assistance for special needs children.
If you are adopting a child with special needs, adoption assistance also known as adoption subsidy may be available. In order to help potential adoptive parents, federal and state adoption assistance programs are available. These may provide support, medical assistance or even monthly maintenance payments until the child is 18 or in some cases 21 years of age. If the child qualifies for assistance, and agreements with the adoptive parents and the state will be made. Also known as IV-E adoption assistance.
In order to see if a child is determined to have special needs, its background will be checked. Further, if the child is deemed to have special needs, support will be granted which could be funded either federally or by state.
Special needs eligibility
In order to qualify as being a child with special needs, three sets of criteria must be met.
- It has been found by the states that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of its biological parents.
- The state has been unable to place the child for adoption due to a specific factor. Each state will have its set of guidelines as to what constitutes being a child with special needs.
- Without adoption assistance, the state has made a reasonable but unsuccessful effort to place the child with a new family.
If the child is in care, the state cannot shop around looking for a family that will adopt the child without adoption assistance support.
Adoption assistance eligibility
Once child is legally recognised to have special needs, there are six gate-ways in which a child can qualify for adoption assistance. The child only needs to qualify in one gateway.
- Aid to Families with Dependent Children Income Guidelines
- Age at Adoption
- Length of Time in Foster Care
- Supplemental Security Income
- A Child of a Minor Parent in Foster Care
- Dissolution of a Prior Adoption
1. Monthly maintenance payments
An amount up to what would have been paid for the child in foster care, will be paid in maintenance payments. Further, if the child has significant special needs, a higher rate will be paid. All maintenance payments rates are negotiated on a family to family basis, looking at their individual needs.
2. Medical assistance
Medicaid benefits are automatically eligible for children who are entitled to adoption assistance.
3. Other services
Other services such as in-home supportive services, respite care services, childcare and referral to community services are available in many states. The services that are available would be negotiated with each family as part of the adoption assistance agreement.
4. Non-recurring adoption
Often, the expense of the adoption procedure is reimbursed to the adopting parents. This fees would include agency fees, adoption fees, court costs, legal fees, travel food and accommodation expenses. Further, the cost of medical exams, birth certificate fees et cetera. States set an upper fee limit as to what can be claimed.
Prior to proceeding with the adoption, families are advised to see what the rules are as regards reimbursements for their expenses.