ADOPTING A BLIND CHILD: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BLINDNESS

Sarah J. Blake

Blindness Topics

Eye care and eye conditions
Low vision
Deafblindness
Orientation and mobility: getting around
Literacy (including braille)
Education
Family life
Emotional impact of blindness
Relationships and social skills
Rehabilitation
Employment
Technology
Independent living skills
Historical events
Organizations of and for the blind
Opinions and experiences
Email lists

About Sarah

Sarah J. Blake has a Bachelor's degree in psychology and special education and earned her M.Div. from Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana, in 2009. She worked for several years as a child care provider for children ages birth to six. She currently serves as moderator for the BVI-Parents discussion group, which provides support for parents of children with visual impairments throughout the world; and maintains the Growing Strong web site, which provides information about family life, faith, mental health, and living with disabilities and special health care needs. She is a licensed minister with the Church of God (Anderson, IN).

The time before an adoption is a time of excitement and questions. If you are considering adopting a blind child, you may have even more questions. Answers to some of the most common questions can help you in the decision-making process or guide or guide you as you plan for a blind child's arrival.

How will blindness affect our family?

The child who is blind is first, and foremost, a child. She has the same basic needs as any other child. Blindness may keep her from driving a car, but it does not necessarily limit her activities. She may do some things differently, and at times she will need some assistance. Some prospective parents fear that the care of a child who is blind will consume enormous amounts of time and energy. Parents who have been raising children who are blind from birth along with sighted children often say that they spend just as much time or energy caring for their sighted children--and sometimes more--as they do in caring for their blind child.

Families of blind children are often confronted with disturbing feelings when they encounter stares, questions or unkind remarks from strangers. Not everyone understands blindness. It is important for the family of a blind child to think of ways to respond in these situations. It is important to educate others about blindness, but it is equally important to respect your own need for privacy as a family. For more thoughts about dealing with strangers' attitudes, see the article, "Why Do You Wear Those Glasses".

Is there treatment which can help the child see?

You will be provided with information about the child's medical background, including the cause of blindness. Understanding the cause of blindness will allow parents to determine whether or not to seek medical intervention and to understand how the child uses his vision and what visual aids might be appropriate. Look for links to information about the child's eye condition in the eye care page.

Will the blind child go to school with siblings?

Most blind children attend their neighborhood schools along with siblings and other neighborhood children. If intensive instruction is needed in certain skills to prepare the blind child for independence in the regular classroom, he may be able to attend a school for the blind for a period of time, even as a summer student. Most schools for the blind have residential programs for students whose families live in other towns and day programs for local students. For more information, see "Early Intervention and Special Education Services".

How does blindness affect a child's development?

The answer to this question may depend on whether or not the blind child has other disabilities in addition to blindness. Many blind children achieve developmental milestones at or near the same time as their sighted peers. However, a significant number of blind children have additional disabilities which may interfere with development. Teachers and therapists are available to help the blind child and her family as the blind child grows and learns. For more information, see the article, "Early Intervention and Special Education".

What financial support is available?

Several sources of assistance may be available to families of adopted blind children. Subsidies are often available for families who adopt children with special needs. Depending on certain factors, disabled children may also be qualified for Social Security Benefits.

Funding for adaptive equipment and medical treatment may be available from Medicaid, the state vocational rehabilitation agency, or charitable organizations such as the Lions Club. Some adaptive equipment may also be available through the school district. Every school district is allotted funds for equipment and supplies for students with special needs. Equipment purchased using these funds must be returned to the school if the blind child graduates or moves away.

Where should I go for support?

There are a number of sources of support online as well as offline. You can browse the index of email lists for the support group which best meets your needs.