Thank you for your interest in adopting a child with Down syndrome. We hope this page will provide you with the tools you need to educate yourself on Down syndrome, and adopting a child with Down syndrome within the United States.
Step 1 – Watch our webinar. Our video is a 60 minute crash-course in how to adopt a child with Down syndrome within the US. It also explains the work of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network.
Step 2 - Get involved with your local Down syndrome parent group. Your local parent group will educate you on Down syndrome, and will help you to learn what the resources are in your area for children with Down syndrome, so that you will be set and ready to go when you adopt a child. Go to any workshops/programs offered, so that you can educate yourself on the various topics that surround Down syndrome, such as feeding, medical issues, therapies, etc. Volunteer for your local parent group, so that you can gain that experience that you will need to parent a child with Down syndrome. The more experience you have in the Down syndrome world, the more confidence a birth or expectant family will have in you as an adoptive parent.
You can find your local parent group here.
Step 3 – Start saving for adoption costs. Domestic, special needs adoption fees can range anywhere from little to no cost, and go up to over $20,000.
If you cannot afford to pay adoption fees, then you will need to be open to older children in foster care, who desperately need a forever family. You can view children in foster care here. Please note, you may still have to pay travel expenses when you travel to the child’s state to take placement of the child. Some children may require you visit them a few times to help with the transition process. Not all states reimburse for travel, and if states do reimburse for travel, they usually cap how much they reimburse to families.
NOTE: The NDSAN charges NO fees for our services. We are supported by donations. Our services are no cost to families.
Most private, domestic, special needs adoptions cost anywhere from $15,000 - 20,000. Those fees include the fees the adoption agency charges for an adoption.
What is not included in those fees, and could be additional in some adoption situations:
-Birth parent expenses
-Medical expenses of the birth mother and/or baby
Not all adoption situations will have additional fees!
These additional expenses could add a few thousand dollars to the adoption fee.
There is financial help:
Rainbow Kids created a great list of financial help resources here.
Check with your employer about adoption benefits. If they do not offer adoption benefits, here is more information about setting up adoption benefits for your place of employment.
The North American Council on Adoptable Children has great information on the Adoption Tax Credit here.
Step 4 – Determine which home study you want. Refer back to the webinar for more information on the home study process, and the types of home studies used. But to recap:
If you want to adopt a child from foster care, choose a public adoption home study which can be obtained by your county Department of Child & Family Services, Adoption/Foster Care division. Please note that there are little to no fees for children in foster care, and that most children in foster care will come with a monthly stipend (called a subsidy) that will help the family care for the child. The monthly stipend is with the child until the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state the child is from. Also note that it is very rare that a newborn or very young child is available in the foster care system. Please consider adopting an older child with very low fees and a monthly subsidy.
If you want to adopt a child privately and you want to adopt a newborn, choose a private, non-profit adoption agency to write your home study. Choosing a non-profit adoption agency will increase your chances of being able to adopt from all 50 states, and will help increase your chances of subsidy approval (see our webinar above for more details). Contact the NDSAN here for a list of agencies in your area.
Please note that your home study MUST approve you to adopt a child with Down syndrome or special needs.
Step 5 – As soon as you confirm with your agency that you will be approved for a home study, create a family profile. Family profiles are mandatory and must be submitted to the NDSAN in order to be contacted about possible adoption situations. Family profiles include pictures of you and your family, and you must adhere to the following:
-Person-First Language and the correct use and spelling of the term Down syndrome must be used, which you can learn more about here.
-Only professional pictures - No selfies, no pictures older than one year.
-Non-identifying information - No last names, no names of any schools, churches, no names specifically identifying any entity, city, landmark, etc.
-The first page is an introduction and after that, please introduce and talk about family members currently living in your household. If you are married, list the year you were married; talk about your faith. If you have a college degree, please provide details, then information about where you live (is it a suburb? Metro area? Country?)
-Talk about your home and community and include most-recent photos of your house (nothing identifying; you can show the backyard, inside, whatever you are comfortable with); how close you are to a children’s hospital and if they provide cardiology services; the special education services your area provides.
-Please talk about your extended family and include pictures, and how close they are to you and how often they visit.
-You MUST devote a page on what experience you have with Down syndrome and equally important is WHY you want to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
-You CANNOT create a profile in Word.
-You must send a professional-looking document, and it MUST be a PDF document.
-You CANNOT create a webpage. It MUST be a PDF document.
Since your family profile needs to look professional and you need to make the BEST impression for families, we can help connect you with a professional family profile company.
Step 6 – When your home study is signed, dated, and you are immediately available to adopt.... Once your home study is complete, email me here to let me know. I will respond by emailing you a consent form that you must fill out. This form states that you consent to having your home study sent by your worker to the NDSAN. You will email that signed consent form to your worker and to the NDSAN. We will respond to both you and your worker with the NDSAN Home Study Information sheet that your worker must fill out, and they will email that completed form to us, along with a copy of your original home study and any updates. When we receive the consent form from you, the home study information sheet, home study and any updates from your worker, I will email you our registration form at that time.
Step 7 – Fill out NDSAN registration form. The registration form is only 3 pages, but please answer every question carefully and correctly. You will provide us with information about you, your family, your experience with Down syndrome, your idea of open adoption. Once we receive your completed form, we will enter your information into the NDSAN Registry, then send you information on creating a family profile.
Step 8 – Welcome to the NDSAN Registry! When we receive your home study from your worker, your registration form and family profile from you, you will be ready to be considered for possible adoption situations. When your name comes up on a report for a potential release, we will contact you. It is okay to say no to a situation that you feel may not be a good fit for your family. No worries; we will remove you from that particular report and we will contact you when your name comes up again.