Series on Special-Needs: Down Syndrome

Spence-Chapin works to find families for children from a variety of diverse and vulnerable populations.  These populations include children with special needs.

Portrait of beautiful young girlDown syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a child has 3 copies of chromosome 21, instead of 2.[1] Worldwide, it is estimated that somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 babies are born each year with Down syndrome. There are roughly 250,000 families currently in the U.S. affected by Down syndrome.[2] Children with Down syndrome face potential physical and intellectual delays and may be more susceptible to certain medical conditions including heart defects and difficulty in hearing.[3]

Facts and figures (and stigmas) aside, children born with Down syndrome are lovable individuals who can make wonderful additions to an adoptive family! Medical and psychological care for these children is obviously paramount because this is a disorder that is accompanied by developmental challenges. What is equally important is that these children receive love and compassion from their families.  Research suggests having a child with Down syndrome in the family can actually have positive effects on a family unit.  Another study revealed that divorce rates in families of a child with Down syndrome are actually lower, comparatively.

For those parents who can open their hearts and homes to children with Down syndrome (or another special need), we  offer support and resources Our Modern Family Center provides programs and services for all adoptive families to help navigate this lifetime process.

 

 


Waiting Children in Bulgaria

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The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice maintains a waiting child registry that lists over 1,800 older children, siblings, and children with special needs who are eligible for international adoption but have not yet found families. Bulgaria prioritizes finding families for the most vulnerable children and updates the waiting child registry monthly.

During our recent visit to Bulgaria we were struck by how many healthy sibling groups are waiting for families. Children are primarily Roma, an ethnic minority within the country, and are typically cared for in institutional settings although foster care is increasingly more common. Families open to adopting siblings recognize that sibling groups have diverse histories and ages, with the oldest child being at least 8 years old. It is our hope to find homes for many of these children with loving American families. In addition to siblings, there are many children with significant special needs who are waiting for families. In Bulgaria, some of the most common special needs include hydrocephaly, moderate or severe cognitive delays, down syndrome, and spina bifida.

Due to the priority of the Ministry of Justice to place the most vulnerable children with adoptive families, we expect families to experience a quick match time – between 6-12 months. Families open to adopting siblings may be matched within a few months of submitting their paperwork to Bulgaria. Once a child has been identified, the inter-country adoption intermediary, ANIDO, has the opportunity to visit the child to gain more information and to take photos and videos. When a family’s paperwork has been submitted to Bulgaria, their application is prioritized and the legal process of finalizing the adoption comes into effect.

Families interested in learning more about the history and trends in Bulgarian adoptions can see up-to-date statistics from the US Embassy in Sophia or the Department of State. The Bulgarian adoption program has seen an increase in placements in the past few years, showing the country’s commitment to de-institutionalization and finding permanency for the children in their care.

Spence-Chapin is committed to finding permanent families for the world’s most vulnerable children. We are reducing financial barriers for adoptive families who open their lives and hearts to a school-age child/sibling group with special needs.

Learn more about Spence-Chapin and our Bulgaria program.