A special needs adoption can be a wonderful way to add to your family. If you’re considering a special needs adoption in North Carolina, there are some special resources that may be available to you. There are also extra steps that you may need to take to finalize the adoption. Here’s what you should know about North Carolina special needs adoptions from our team.
The court must agree that the adoption is in the child’s best interests
All adoptions require the approval of a North Carolina court. The judge reviews the entire circumstances in order to determine if adoption is in the best interests of the child. Adoption of a special needs child might receive extra scrutiny from a North Carolina court.
In order to make its determination, the court requires the adoptive family to complete a home study. Investigating officials report to the court on the circumstances surrounding the proposed adoption. Usually, the agency involved in the adoption completes the report. A report generally includes personal histories of each person in the adoptive family and a history of the adoptee. The report must include any information that might be important to determine whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Where the adoption involves a special needs child, the court might give more consideration to whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child than they do in other cases. In addition to the agency report, the court can also receive information from the prospective adoptive parents. Your adoption attorney can help you evaluate your case and work with you to build the right evidence to present to the court. You might work with a psychologist, physical therapist or educational expert to provide the court with detailed information about whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. If the court agrees, they approve your special needs adoption.
There may be financial assistance available until your child is grown
The State of North Carolina may offer you financial assistance to help you with the expenses of raising a special needs child. For children who qualify, the state provides monthly payments from the time the adoption is final until the child reaches the age of 18. The payments are meant to help children find adoptive families in cases where special circumstances might make it challenging to find an appropriate home. The payments increase as the children age, and are generally several hundred dollars each month.
The definition of special needs child may be more expansive than you think
In order to qualify for monthly payments, the child must qualify as a special needs child under the state definition. The definition of a special needs child is quite expansive. Monthly payments are meant to help any child who may need extra help finding an adoptive family. To qualify, a child must be in state care at the time of their adoption. If they’re in state care but adopted with the help of an adoption agency, they still qualify as a special needs child for the purposes of adoption subsidy payments.
Any child with a medically diagnosed disability that limits a major life function or needs professional treatment qualifies as a special needs child. A child also qualifies if they need help with daily care or they have a mental challenge or psychiatric condition. Even if a child is at risk for special needs because of their personal history, an adoptive family can reserve the right to claim an adoption subsidy at a later time to help with the child’s care.
You may receive additional funds for an extraordinary need
A child with one of a number of extraordinary special needs can receive an additional amount on top of the state subsidy that applies to all special needs children. Children with HIV, for example, can receive up to $1,200 per month. A child who is terminally ill who has complicated medical needs can receive up to $1,600 per month. When a child has therapeutic needs, they may receive an amount in addition to the general subsidy in order to allow them to receive the same care that they receive while in foster care.
There’s a good chance your adopted child is eligible for Medicaid
Almost all adopted children with special needs are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid can help your child meet their medical needs until they reach the age of majority. Medicaid covers a range of medical services including doctor visits and specialized medical services.
Mental health care
If you adopt a special needs child, there’s a good chance that they qualify for subsidized mental health care services. Mental health care services may cover inpatient and outpatient treatment. The exact services that may be covered for your child depend on their unique needs. In addition to mental health care services that may be covered, you may receive referrals to support groups and other help for adoptive families through the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Social Services. The services available may vary by county.
Resources available after an adopted special needs child turns 18
After your adopted child turns 18, the special needs adoption subsidy ends. If your child needs care after they turn 18, there may still be public resources available to help your child. Your child may qualify for social security payments and other public support. Our North Carolina special needs adoption attorneys can help you evaluate your child’s needs and create a long-term plan for your child’s care.
Is special needs adoption right for you?
In a special needs adoption, just like in any adoption, it’s important to be open to an unknown and uncertainty. When you welcome a special needs child into your family, you may need to advocate for your child’s medical, educational and emotional needs. Bobby Mills can help you understand what’s involved in a special needs adoption. Whether you need help gathering evidence to prove that the adoption is in the child’s best interests or you need help finding and applying for assistance programs, our special needs attorneys can help. We can help you with all aspects of your special needs adoption. Contact us today to talk about your case.