Adopting children with special care needs

two girls hugging

It's often difficult to find families willing to care for a child with additional care needs, including children with disability. Most of the children are aged up to five years.

Many have significant physical, intellectual or developmental disability or have been diagnosed with ongoing medical conditions. Some may have behavioural or emotional issues that will require additional care and specialised skills from their adoptive family. Some older children may have been in residential care and have very little experience of living in a family.

FACS’ helps find adoptive or permanent care families for these children.

Who can adopt a child with additional care needs?

As the needs of children vary greatly, we need to choose families based on the individual child’s needs.

Married couples, couples living in a de facto relationship, people with or without other children and single people can apply.

The casework team considers:

  • an applicant's capacity to meet the emotional, psychological, physical and social needs of the child
  • an applicant's health and it’s impact on their ability to care for the child into their adult years
  • the length and stability of the applicants’ married or de facto relationship (heterosexual or same sex) if applicable (the minimum length of relationship required is two years)
  • an applicant's age, to ensure they can care for the child into their adult years as required
  • the number and ages of the other children in the family
  • the readiness of the applicant to adopt
  • an applicant's good character and repute.

Finding a forever family

We need to match the child's needs, care demands and background with the long-term parents' capacity to parent, their understanding of the child's disability or care needs, their expectations and own needs, and the needs of any other children in the family. This ensures we are finding each child a safe and stable home for life.

Adoption process

This adoption process differs from local and intercountry adoption.

If you are interested in finding out more about the adoption of a child with special care needs, contact Adoption Services.

Phone: 02 9716 3003
Email:  Adoption.PermanentCare@facs.nsw.gov.au

Alternatively, the other approved agency for special needs adoptions is Anglicare Adoption Services. Contact them on 02 9890 6855 for more information.

The next steps

  1. Your details will be added to the Special Placements mailing list. You will be sent newsletters about the children needing adoptive or permanent care families when Adoption Services has children in the program who need a family.
  2. If you believe you may have the skills, motivation and resources to care for one of the children described in the newsletter, contact the child’s caseworker (caseworker’s details will be included in the newsletter) in order to receive further information on the child.
  3. Before your suitability for a child is assessed, you must attend a three-day training seminar.
  4. Then you will be asked to attend an initial interview with a special placements program caseworker.
  5. If the child is eligible for adoption, you will be asked to make a formal application to adopt. If the child is available for permanent care, the child will continue to be under the parental responsibility of the Minister and the placement will be supervised by a caseworker at your local Community Services Centre. Annual reviews will take place in order to discuss the child’s ongoing medical, social and educational needs, ongoing contact with the child’s birth family and financial arrangements.
  6. Assessment of you and your family may take place.
  7. FACS will consult with the child's medical specialists.
  8. We will decide whether to proceed with the placement of the child with your family.
  9. If approved, the child will be placed gradually with you and your family.
  10. Further visits will be made to your home to discuss how you are adjusting to the placement.
  11. If adoption is an appropriate plan for the child, Adoption Services will prepare the adoption application to the Supreme Court.

Cost of special needs adoption

There are no fees payable to FACS if you choose to proceed with the adoption of a child with special care needs.

Adoption subsidy

FACS can assist you with an adoption of a child with additional care needs through an adoption subsidy payment. Assistance can include:

  • financial assistance equivalent to the foster care allowance
  • particular assistance based on individual needs. This could be funding for aids or equipment (such as wheelchairs or catheters) or with remedial tuition, orthodontic work etc.

The need for payment of a subsidy is evaluated during the adoption assessment process. Adoption allowances are subject to annual review.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)