When people think of adoption, they often think only of young healthy children or babies. In every country where ICANZ goes, there are untold numbers of children waiting, often languishing for lack of personal loving attention, waiting for a family; they are called "Waiting Children", "Special Focus Children" or sometimes "Special Needs Children". The term " "special needs" can be scary or intimidating, leading people to believe all waiting children are not healthy. Some certainly do have significant medical or developmental needs, and some have needs of other types.

Typically these children fall into these categories:

Older children

Older children are typically over 8 or 9 years, depending on the country. They may long for a permanent family and have no special medical issues, yet because they are older, they have had difficult life experiences and fewer families wish to adopt them. While adopting an older child adoption brings a different set of challenges, the joy and satisfaction for parents of helping an older child adapt and become a happy, integrated member of the family is enormous.

 "Adopting an older child is not for wimps. If you think trying to calm down a 2-year-old in the store is embarrassing, just imagine the stares you get when your 8-year-old throws a fit in the cereal aisle,"  Adopting An Older Child – Extract from “Our Own” by Trish Maskew.

Some older children are part of a sibling group, some are individual children. ICANZ can help you adopt an older child or children from Lithuania, India, Philippines or Thailand.

Large Sibling Groups

In every country ICANZ works with we see groups of 3, 4 or 5 children in need of a new family. The oldest child is typically 8, 9, 10+.

For many children in orphanage care, their brothers or sisters have been the only constant presence in their lives, who understand and share their experiences and can help them make sense of their new lives. Siblings placed together often feel more secure and are able to help each other adjust to their new family and community. Keeping siblings together can prevent a lifetime of longing and searching for lost brothers and sisters. 

You'll need plenty of space in your home, time to devote to the individual child's needs, flexiblity and willingness to change your lifestyle, your own emotional resilience to deal with each child's needs and a supportive network of family and friends.

Children with medical needs, of all ages

Children with medical needs have the same need as any other child for a secure and permanent family relationship. These medical needs are more than minor needs that are quickly and easily rectified with minor surgery. The family needs to research the medical facts on the condition and source the best medical treatment in the area in which they live. Read about adopting a child with HepB. Waiting children include children with developmental needs, of all ages. All children living in orphanages are likely to have some minor developmental delays across all areas; physical growth delays, cognitive delays, speech delays, social developmental delays.  Children who are categorised as "waiting children" due to developmental delays typically have more significant developmental delays than those caused by life in an orphanage. Parents need to have realistic expectations and celebrate whatever progress their child achieves.

What type of family do waiting children need? 

Read our article on the characterics needed to parent older children or siblings or medically needy children.

Country Specific Information

Each country has its own way of operating "waiting child" adoption. Read about adopting a waiting child in India, Lithuania, Philippines or Thailand.

If you want to open your heart and your home to a special focus child that is “waiting”, talk to us.