The Courage to Adopt a Child with Disability

August 01, 2022 | Rashi Sharma

Adoption in India is considered a last resort to parenthood when everything else fails. Biological offspring are much preferred over adoptive children. In such a world, it takes a lot of courage for a couple to opt for adoption and become parents to a child who is not biologically theirs. Of all the people who opt for adoption, only a small number adopt a child who is differently abled. Adoption is fraught with several challenges during and after the process. A key reason that influences parents against the adoption of a child with disabilities is the monetary burden. Other reasons include lack of preparatory- and post-adoption support, disability specific support, educational support, and assistance in managing open adoptions. Families that do adopt children with developmental disability often have reasons for doing so; often different from those who adopt children without disability.

The adoption process and help

Children with special needs wait for adoption for many years. It is far more difficult to find an adoptive home for these children because of concerns of potential parents’ regarding their ability to parent effectively. Parenting a child with a disability can be a source of stress and strain on marital and familial relationships especially if the prospective parents are not equipped with the right information and assistance in the process.

Challenges faced post-adoption

The adoption process is fraught with several challenges that must be addressed:

  1. Acceptance in society: This is the primary challenge an adoptive parent faces. Since adoption is considered the last resort to parenting and a non-disabled child is often considered over a special child, it is always a challenge to make the child as well as parents accepted and welcomed in society.
  2. High cost of medical needs of the child: Medical needs are a significant part of the burden of bringing up a child with challenges. This is a challenge for adoptive parents and more so when children are adopted in middle class families.
  3. Protecting the child from the outside world: In a world that is criminalizing, parents must protect their children and help make to make personal safety an important area of learning for their child.
  4. Making the child independent: Children with disability must be able to exercise their basic human right to become independent like every human being.
  5. Enhancing the special skills of the child: It is often believed and even said by our ancestors that if god denies one sense or organ to an individual, he blesses them with one if not more extraordinary skills. Therefore it becomes the job of the parents to enhance the skills of their children and help them in their mastery.
  6. A final concern – sexual misconduct: While everyone is susceptible to victimization by sexual crimes, children with intellectual and developmental disabilities are undoubtedly more vulnerable. There is a need to consider the instances of sexual exploitation of children with intellectual and developmental challenges in the houses they are placed.

Adoption is satisfying

Courageous parents, willing to take on the mental and financial burden of adopting a child with developmental disability, are far and few between. Yet parents who have adopted children with disability speak of the incredible joy that their children have brought into their lives. Parents gain immense satisfaction from assisting their child to grow and accomplish their goals.

But adoption of the intellectually disabled at any age, be it toddler or a full-grown adult, should be a process that involves thorough background checks on the prospective family and their understanding of the needs of the child during and after the process. Families should be caregivers to children with intellectual disability in a way that they can offer love, care and support to the child.

About the author: Rashi Sharma is a law student at Ajeenkya D.Y. Patil University, Pune, born and brought up in the city of Ranchi, Jharkhand. As a first year law student, she is interested in the integration of persons with disability into the wider social circle. She has interned at the Amrit Foundation of India.


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