Adoption of Children
With Special Care Needs

There are a number of children in Wisconsin with special care needs waiting to be adopted. Efforts are made to find an adoptive family that best meets the needs of a child when it is not safe for the child to live with their birth parents. It may take time to find the appropriate family that can provide the extra measure of patience, acceptance, caring and understanding of the child's needs because of their mental or physical handicaps, disruptive behavior, medical problems or other factors.

To receive information regarding adoption of an older child, a child with special care needs or a sibling group, please contact the appropriate regional office that serves your county of residence.

Children who are waiting for a family may come from a variety of situations. Many children are currently living in foster homes. It may be their first placement after being moved from their family of origin, or it may be one in a series of moves the child has experienced.

A child must have, or be at risk of developing, special needs and otherwise would not be able to be placed for adoption without adoption assistance.

Eligibility criteria for the child is defined in Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 50, Facilitating the Adoption of Children with Special Needs (DCF 50.03).

The Adoption Assistance Program can help the family meet the costs of extensive and frequently expensive care. The Adoption Assistance Program is funded under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and State matching funds. Adoption assistance may include:

  • medical assistance for some medical costs not covered by the family's health insurance;
  • a monthly amount to adoptive parent(s) to assist meeting the financial demands of caring for a child's special care needs (maximum of $2,000); and
  • reimbursement of reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in order to complete the adoption (e.g., legal fees and/or agency fees) up to $2,000.

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.