I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.
--The Little Engine That Could
Living with children who have disabilities is a mixed bag of challenge and unique rewards. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when so many adoptive parents have. gone before and have so much to share. Every adoptive parent of children with disabilities should have a support group or system, preferably specific to a child's disability.
What is the most challenging disability of all? Chances are you did not say emotional and behavioral disabilities. Yet research shows that the adoptions that are most difficult and the most likely to fail are those of children who have emotional and behavioral problems, particularly sexual promiscuity, physical aggression, stealing, vandalizing, suicide threats or attempts, and wetting or soiling ( Rosenthal & Groze, 1992). Many experienced parents agree, saying that it is their children's emotional and behavioral disabilities, not physical ones, that are the most challenging to live with.
This chapter takes a broad look at the categories of special needs and at what it means for families to live with these challenges.
Many children who have special needs have histories that place them in the "at-risk" category. These kids have pre-natal drug or alcohol exposure, a history of abuse or neglect, or a birth family history of mental illness or disability. How such experiences affect children and the families who adopt them is discussed in the following sections.