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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
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Adopting Children When You Have A History Of A Serious Health Condition


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Public and private adoption agencies consider a number of factors when determining whether a couple or individual is fit to be an adoptive parent. One of the factors is the health of prospective adoptive parents. Health is relevant because agencies want to provide permancy for a young person and to be sure that a health condition does not interfere with the adoptive parent's ability to parent.

Because of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), decisions in the U.S. about whether to permit adoption by a person with a health history must be made on an individualized basis based on actual risks and the use of reasonable judgment. If a person is rejected because of health reasons, the ADA requires that the rejection must be justifiable. (For more information about the ADA and adoption, click here.)

Following are the eight steps to take to maximize your chances of an adoption going through. 

  • Step 1. Review your financial situation. 
    • An adoption agency will likely consider whether you have adequate health insurance or other financial means to meet what may be substantial medical bills while financially supporting a child. (To help assess your situation, see: Budget. To help improve your financial condition, see Financial Planning).
    • Can your economic entity reasonably afford to raise a child? Consider costs of clothing, food, medical care, education
  • Step 2. Let both your primary care doctor and your specialist who treats or treated your health condition know that you are considering adoption. Ask his or her opinion about the question whether you are physically and psychologically able to meet the needs of a child from infancy to adulthood.
  • Step 3. Obtain a letter from the specialist who treated or continues to treat your health condition. The letter should include the following:
    • A description of your health history, including diagnosis (in general terms).
    • The date of completion of treatment and the result.
    • An assessment of your current health condition.
    • The doctor's opinion about the prospects for your health in the future. If possible, the letter should include documentation for the doctor's opinion, as well as a percentage which reflects the doctor's degree of certainty about his/her opinion concerning the future.
  • Step 4. Create a list of family and friends who can help support the child emotionally, physically and financially. Check with each of the people on your list to be sure they agree with your assessment of their ability and of their willingness to participate if necessary.
  • Step 5. Think about what your decision would be if you were asked by an agency about your willingness to seek therapy for you and your partner as well as for the child due to the stress and potential effect on the child if your condition becomes terminal.
  • Step 6. Examine your home to be sure that it is a child friendly place. If not, take the steps necessary to make it one.
  • Step 7. Discuss with your partner, and reach agreement about:
    • Parental motivation and expectations about adoption.
    • Feelings about infertility
    • Parenting styles
  • Step 8. Consider meeting with a social worker or a lawyer who specializes in adoption. While you must answer all questions honestly, such a specialist can help you:
    • Decide which adoption agency to approach based on which agency has been most understanding in the past of people with your medical history.
    • Frame how to present medical and financial information.
    • Obtain appropriate documentation.
    • Avoid unnecessary pitfalls. For example, most agencies will inspect your home. You may keep pill bottles in the open as a reminder to take them. To an observer, the bottles may be a sign of an ongoing illness.

For information about finding a social worker who specializes in adoption, click here. For information about a lawyer who specializes in adoption or a local accredited adoption agency, click here.

If you do not qualify for a local adoption, consider an international adoption. 

  • U.S. law does not apply to other countries. Prospective adoptive U.S. parents must look to the law of each country to determine whether they can adopt despite a medical history.
  • While it is not impossible, it is very difficult to adopt internationally if you have a history of a serious health condition. For information about adoption in foreign countries, including information about the law as well as practical information, see:
  • International adoptions tend to be more expensive than domestic adoptions.  In addition to an adoption agency's service fee for the home study, etc., there is a fee established by the sending company plus the costs of traveling to that country to complete the adoption and bring the child home.


  • You must be honest and open with an adoption agency. That does not mean you are required to volunteer any information. In fact, you are not required to volunteer any information unless it could be harmful to the child. We recommend erring on the side of disclosing any information which could possibly be harmful to the child. Let the professionals decide whether it could be harmful.
  • Adoptions take time, no matter how fast the prospective adoptive parents want things to happen. They can also involve a great deal of stress.
  • There is a one-time federal tax credit referred to as the "adoption credit."  For information, see: offsite link

NOTE: If you do adopt, you may be eligible to claim a federal adoption tax credit for qualified adoption expenses for an eligible child. The amount of the credit varies from year to year. For information about the tax credit, click here offsite link.

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