Disabled Persons Can Adopt

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
You may use the stars on the left to rate and leave feedback for the current article. No registration is required. Waiting for 5 votes 5.0 of 5 stars (1 votes) — Thanks for your vote

Please fill out the following optional information before submitting your rating:

Itís the Law

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many disabled persons qualify to be considered as adoptive parents. It's the law. And it applies to both public and private adoption agencies.

No Categorical Rejection

Madelyn Freundlich, former Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, writes that a
[c]ategorical rejection of individuals with disabilities as prospective adoptive parents on such bases as blindness, deafness, HIV infection, or history of drug use and treatment will violate the ADA and expose adoption agencies to liability.
However, it should be noted that in a 1998 court case in New York, a ruling was handed down that agencies may deny placement based on a prospective parent's disabilities. The court ruled that it is the job of the agency to find a suitable family for a child, not a child for a family. If a disability appears to be a legitimate concern, placement may be denied, as long as this is not part of a routine exclusion of prospective parents based on disabilities.

General terms

Title II and Title III of the Act refer to public and private entities, respectively. Terms and definitions are the same in both Titles, and they apply to both public and private adoption services.

An individual is considered "disabled" and is protected from discrimination if:
  • he/she has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life abilities, or
  • he/she has a record of such an impairment, or
  • he/she is regarded as having such an impairment, which includes
    • when an impairment is treated as if it limits major life abilities, or
    • limited abilities as a result of attitudes of others about the impairment, or
    • when no impairment exists but the individual is treated by others as though it does.
What are "major life abilities?"

As described in a discussion of the Act from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), major life abilities include "such things as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working."

It really can happen... and not just in the US!

Jamie Berke, the Guide to Deafness/Hard of Hearing at About.com, is an adoptive parent, successful businessperson, and she's deaf. Her own experience led her to establish a listing of deaf children awaiting adoption, the Deaf Adoption News Service.

In Ireland, Noleen Kavanaugh adopted her daughter, Laura, from Romania. Noleen has cerebral palsy.

In her book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption", Christine Adamec advises disabled persons seeking to adopt to stay focused on the options open to them and not take initial resistance as a personal affront. Openness about limitations arising from the disability is of utmost importance, as is a discussion of the way they are handled. And disabled adopters should know that they are not limited to adopting a special needs child.

If you are a disabled American, you probably already know about protection against discrimination offered to you by the ADA. And if you're in another country, be sure to learn the laws that protect your rights to pursue adoption if you want.

To contact the ADA:
1-800-514-0301 (voice)
1-800-514-0383 (TDD)

Additional Resources:
Visitor Comments (0) - Be the first to comment
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.

To see local Adopting resources, please select a location (U.S. only):

Need a Home Study?
Adoption Photolisting
Zavior (FL / 12 / M)
Zavior is an African-American male with black hair and brown eyes. He is very active and likes to play outside. Zavior would do well in an active family as he enjoys riding his... [more]
Parent Profiles
We are so excited to become first time parents! We have been married for five years and cannot wait to bring home our bundle of joy! Thank you so much for considering us to raise... [more]
Directory of Adoption Professionals
Find a professional
for all of your adoption needs including:

Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.

Settings Help Feedback
Template Settings
Width: 1024     1280
Choose a Location:
Choose a Theme: