The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network is a non-profit program that offers support and information to parents whose child has received a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and may be considering an adoption plan for their child. We offer a listening ear and information. If they choose adoption for their child, we have a registry of families from all over the United States who are interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome within the US. There are no fees for our services. We are a non-profit program.
We are here for you. No matter where you are in the process…a prenatal diagnosis, considering termination, or received a diagnosis at birth…we can help.
All children benefit from the opportunity to grow up in a loving family, but not all birth families feel they are able to meet the needs of a child born with Down syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network provides information to birth families who may be seeking alternatives to parenting as they prepare for the arrival of their child. Making an adoption plan for a child with Down syndrome is a loving choice and can be the right choice for some families.
Call Robin Steele, NDSAN Director and Birth Parent contact, at 513-213-9615 anytime, day or night. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for You
Booklet for birth families – A Loving Choice: Making An Adoption Plan for a Child with Down Syndrome
Video, “Adopting or Releasing a Child with Down Syndrome” (coming soon)
Video produced by an adoptive parent, but birth parents will find this as a wonderful resource and a look into the window of parenting a child with Down syndrome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCZkhKFvWD4
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition which is the most commonly occurring chromosomal abnormality. It occurs in 1 out of every 733 births and affects people of all races and economic levels.
A baby with Down syndrome, for unknown reasons, will have threecopies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. That is why Down syndrome is also called Trisomy 21. Children with Down syndrome are born with an extra 21st chromosome. They usually have some degree of developmental delay.
They may be born with additional medical issues such as heart problems. Many of these conditions are correctable or treatable. Children with Down syndrome can learn, go to school, participate in family and community activities. There are approximately 350,000 individuals with Down Syndrome in the US.
Who are the Parents in the Registry?
Adoptive families who register with the NDSAN may come from anywhere in the United States. They are families that specifically want to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Some are first time parents, others are experienced families that include many children. Some choose to adopt a child because they have a sibling or other relative with Down syndrome. Many who work in the special education or therapy field are interested in adopting children with Down syndrome as well.
How Do I Know My Child Will be Safe in an Adoptive Family?
All families who adopt a child must have a home study completed by a licensed agency in their home state. The “home study” will include criminal background checks, medical reports and financial statements along with verification of the family’s living arrangements, parenting skills, and extended family history. Families who register with the NDSAN must have a completed home study or be in the process of completing or updating their home study.
Why Would Anyone Choose to do What I am Finding So Difficult?
Receiving the news that your baby has a diagnosis of Down syndrome can be devastating for birth parents who are unprepared for that news. Families who chose to adopt a child with Down syndrome are coming from a very different perspective. They are usually familiar and often experienced with what the diagnosis of Down syndrome can mean. They know the joys, as well as the challenges, and are able to embrace the possibilities. Many birth parents will gain that perspective as well, as time goes on. For some however, adoption offers a positive and loving choice.
Will I Be Able to Have Contact with My Child After the Adoption?
Birth families can choose from a variety of options as they consider the future. If they choose to make an adoption plan, a birth parent can decide if they want to continue to have contact with the adoptive family and to maintain a relationship with their child. While adoption is a legally binding relationship that gives full responsibility for parenting the child to the adoptive family, many adoptive families are quite comfortable continuing to maintain visits with the birth family and to keep the birth family involved in the life of the child. Other types of “open adoption” include contact by letters, emails and pictures on a regular basis. For birth families that want minimal or no contact, that is also an option.
How Long Will the Process Take Once I Make My Decision?
It is possible to plan for an adoption at any point during the pregnancy. If the diagnosis is made after the birth, an adoption plan can be made as well, if needed. But the actual paperwork involved in releasing a child for adoption can only occur after the birth of the child. Some states have a required period of time after the birth before a relinquishment can be signed. The adoptive family can be involved and present at the birth or soon after if the birth family wishes for them to be involved right away.
How Do I Share This Decision with My Extended Family?
Adoption is a loving choice for a child whose birth family does not feel they are in a position to parent. But extended families may not be supportive of that decision. Many birth families choose to share their adoption plan, and their reasons for making such a plan, prior to the birth of the baby. The NDSAN is always willing to speak with or share information with extended family members who may have questions about adoption.
How Do I Handle This with My Baby’s Siblings?
Having an open adoption can allow birth siblings to remain in contact. Continuing a relationship, even through letters or pictures, can be reassuring to siblings separated by an adoption plan. Birth parents need to make it very clear that their choice to make an adoption plan for their child with Down syndrome was based on their desire for this child with very special needs to grow up in a family that was equipped with the resources to meet those needs. Loving families make loving choices for their children, even though they are not always easy choices.
What if I Change My Mind?
The birth family always has the ability to “change their mind” about the adoption plan prior to signing the relinquishment paperwork, which is only signed after the birth of the child. Most states have a period of time required before the finalization of the adoption in court. During that period of time, the birth family can also ask for the birth child to be returned.
While the loss of the child through an adoption disruption is painful, adoptive families recognize that it is not uncommon for birth families to “fall in love” with their baby when they have the opportunity to hold him or her in their arms. Our goal is to insure that every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family, even when that “family” turns out to be the “birth family”!
What if the Baby is misdiagnosed and NOT born with Down Syndrome?
Families who register with the NDSAN want to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. If a baby, believed to have Down Syndrome, is born without the diagnosis, the adoptive family would only remain involved if the birth family desired to continue the adoption process.
Can an Adoption Plan be Made for an Older Child with Down Syndrome?
Yes! Families who register with the NDSAN indicate the ages of the children they will consider. We have quite a few families waiting to adopt children with Down syndrome of all ages…even teenagers!
Can I Talk with Other Birth Parents Who Have Made an Adoption Plan for a Child with Down Syndrome?
If it would be helpful to talk with a family that has made an adoption plan for an infant with Down syndrome, the NDSAN can provide that link. Just contact NDSAN for a referral.