After adopting four children with special needs, and fostering over thirty children, some with identified special and others not, I can say with confidence that taking on the task of raising a child that is not your birth child has special challenges. Not everything is as it looks. Adoption social workers are not always upfront about a child's special needs. But, having gone the route of adopting a special needs child, four times, in fact, I can say with patience and self-education, it is doable.
I say self-education because there is no book written that addresses every child's needs and every adoptive parent's concerns. It is a learn-by-experience operation. Every day brings new challenges, ones you may not have even dreamed of.
Adopting a child means that there are genetic mysteries that may have a big impact on your child. Some mental illnesses have a heredity factor. Mental retardation is sometimes genetically impacted. Certain physical conditions are also affected by heredity. Even if you have a good medical and genetic history of the birth family it may not help you know what to expect of your child.
Adopting a child also brings expenses that you may not experience with a biological child, such as counseling, expenses related to medical conditions, loss of work due to problems in school, possibly even problems with legal authorities, especially when adopting an older child.
So why, if there are all these problems, would one consider adopting? Are these cons offset by any pros? If so, what are they?
With my four precious adopted children now young adults, I have to say, yes, it was worth it. The pros far outweigh the cons. Even having gone through brushes with the law, total rejection by one of the four, and other issues with one twenty-year-old still living at home due to mental illness issues, I still have to say I would do it all over again.
Just some of the pros that have made it worthwhile include the love I have been able to give and the love given to me. I have been at least partially responsible for the survival of a medical fragile child who doctors say would not have survived if I had not taken him. Although none of the four are totally independent, productive individuals at this time, all are far beyond what could have been. I know I have made a difference in the world, and in these children's lives. What greater goal than to have helped someone become the best they can be, to have helped them avoid a totally dysfunctional life.
Yes, the pros outweigh the cons in a big way. The cons are just obstacles along the way. Yes, they made life hard at times, but the joys overcame any hardships that were involved.