Adopting a Child with Down syndrome

Should you consider adopting a child with Down syndrome? What medical, behavioral, and emotional issues may accompany this genetic disorder. We talk with Dr. Emily Jean Davidson, Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School.

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Hit the Highlights
  • Person first language- preferred reference is to say a child with Down syndrome, not a Downs or I want to adopt a Down. People with Down syndrome are more like us than different from us and we want to be respectful of them as people and that begins in infancy.
  • It is possible to adopt a child with Down syndrome domestically in a private infant adoption where the parents make a decision to place their child for adoption or adopt a child with Down syndrome from foster care where the child was either removed from the home or the parents relinquished to foster care. You can also adopt a child internationally who has Down syndrome. There are many countries with children with Down syndrome waiting to be adopted.
  • If you are interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome either domestically or internationally, you must have a home study that specifically approves you to adopt a child with this syndrome. The main thing is to let your agency know that this is a special need you are open to when they begin the homestudy.
  • What is Down syndrome?
  • How common is Down syndrome?
  • What are the different types of Down syndrome. (Three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of cases, translocation accounts for about 4%, and mosaicism accounts for about 1%.)
  • What are some of the common physical trait of a person with Down syndrome? (A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.)
  • What is the life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome?
  • What are the common developmental disabilities caused by this disorder?
  • What are the common intellectual disabilities caused by this disorder?
  • Is there a way to know in advance how intellectually impacted a child may be? What are some ways to try to determine the degree of impact if you are adopting a child past infancy?
  • Interventions that can help.
  • What are the common medical conditions that may accompany trisomy 21?
  • Is there a medical specialty that those considering adopting a child with Down syndrome should seek out?
  • What are some common mental health issues and behavioral issues that may be more common in people with Down syndrome?
  • How to find mental health and behavioral treatment for children and adults with Down syndrome?
  • Are people with Down syndrome able to live independently in adulthood?
  • What makes a difference in the prognosis for children with Down syndrome? The importance of early intervention, well-prepared parents, loving home
  • Why should people consider adopting a child with Down syndrome?



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