The choice to adopt takes careful consideration, especially if you're adopting a child with additional and potentially costly needs. Parents adopting children with special needs, defined by federal and state laws, may be eligible for federal or state adoption assistance. This support (also referred to as the adoption subsidy) is often paid monthly, providing assistance for medical and other support-related costs.
The following covers the basics of special needs adoption assistance, including eligibility requirements and how to apply for assistance.
Adoption Assistance and the Definition of 'Special Needs'
Federal adoption assistance funds are available through the states to those who qualify as having "special needs" as defined by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. Determination of being a special needs orphan under Title IV-E is broken down to three main criteria (as determined by the state or tribal agency):
This determination (and eligibility under the categories listed below) is made at the state level. For instance, California's plan for adoption assistance details how it complies with federal Title IV-E requirements.
Eligibility for Special Needs Adoption Assistance
If the child meets the above criteria to be considered a "special needs" orphan, their adoptive parents may be eligible for assistance in one of a few different ways. While there were certain age restrictions pertaining to birth parents' income, Title IV-E eligibility was opened up to children of all ages beginning in 2018.
These are some of the ways in which your family may be eligible for special needs adoption assistance:
Special Needs Adoption Assistance: Benefits
What types of expenses are covered, the frequency of payments, and other factors pertaining to exact benefits of adoption assistance depend on state laws and procedures and are determined on a case-by-case basis. If it's later determined that more funds are needed to cover the child's special needs, the assistance agreement may be renegotiated.
Special needs adoption assistance generally consists of the following:
Confused About Special Needs Adoption Assistance? An Attorney Can Help
The main goal of the state and federal adoption assistance program is to increase placements of orphans who need additional care. If you're adopting a child with special needs, you may be eligible for a monthly payment. Talk to an adoption law attorney near you to learn more.