Adopting a child with additional needs

Coram is among 21 UK VAAs who have together created a guide for people considering adoption, containing helpful information and advice from parents who have already adopted children with additional needs.

Mum doing sensory play with her daughter

Voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) across the UK, including Coram Adoption, have joined forces to find more adoptive parents for children with additional needs who are waiting for a family with the creation of their free guide. We are urgently looking for people who can offer them a permanent and loving home.

Children with additional needs wait an average of 11 months longer* in care than their peers

What are additional needs?

Young boy in a wheelchair holds hands with parentThe term covers a very wide spectrum of needs and behaviours and it’s often very misinterpreted or misunderstood. All children can have additional needs at times. These could be to do with their development, learning, communication, behaviour, or emotional wellbeing. There are also children with physical disabilities that may require support including adaptations to their home. Neurodiversity is also often referred to as as an additional need. 

Additional needs can be short-term or long-term, as some children may need additional help for a short period of time while others may need it for longer and some lifelong into adulthood.

What is the assessment process?

It is usual practice for adoption social workers to have a discussion with their prospective adopters about what they feel they could manage as parents when meeting a child's needs. The training and preparation received during assessment helps prospective adopters understand the needs of the children waiting and explore their own strengths and abilities as a parent.

It is often difficult to explain in detail exactly what each additional need is for the children we work with, as every child is unique. Their needs will also change as they grow, just as all of our needs change as we age.

Caroline Keane, Head of Adoption at Coram Adoption, said:

“It may sound daunting for people thinking about adoption to consider a child with additional needs but our adoptive parents who have done so say it is incredibly rewarding. It gives a child the chance to flourish and to grow up with the love and security that every child deserves. Many of the thousands of children waiting in care who have additional needs, wait nearly a year longer than other children. We want to change that. We are excited to be part of this project sharing first hand, heartfelt experience and advice from families who have already done this incredible thing of adopting a child with additional needs.”

Further reading

Coram supports adoptive parents at all stages of their adoption journey. In this guide, adopters from voluntary adoption agencies share their positive experiences of adopting a child with additional needs and offer practical advice to prospective adopters.

Download the free guide

Adopter stories

Rita**, a single parent who adopted her daughter through Coram, said:

Mum and daughter hold hands“Initially in my adoption journey, I had some reservations about caring for a child with additional needs. But as I learned more about Victoria** and her conditions, it became less of a barrier. Everything I thought I couldn’t cope with at the beginning, I have managed to cope with. My daughter is so much more than I could ever have hoped for. My expectations have been exceeded a thousand times over. We talk about how she found me, and I found her. We couldn’t imagine a better match. She’s just a really special person.”

Read Rita's story

*The latest data shows in 2022/2023, there were 2110 children waiting to be adopted from care -

**Names changed to protect anonymity