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How to Adopt Hospice Babies.
Deciding to adopt a baby who is terminally ill is a selfless, loving decision that can positively change the lives of that baby and your whole family.
To get started in the process of adopting a hospice baby, you will want to find hospice babies through fostering agencies, prepare yourself practically and emotionally, and enjoy your time providing love and security to your baby in need.
Finding Hospice Babies
Call your local foster care agency about adopting hospice babies.
Your local foster care agency will help you to determine if your state has an official Medical Treatment Foster Care program associated with local children’s hospitals.
Let the agency know that you are interested specifically in fostering/adopting a terminally ill baby and ask for information about Medical Treatment Foster programs near you.
Search Adoptuskids.org to adopt a baby from foster care.
Babies in foster care are in the temporary custody of the state because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.
Their parents are given the chance to complete services to have their children come home.
About half of children who go into foster care return to their birth families, if that is what’s in the child’s best interest.
Contact RainbowKids about adopting a baby with special needs.
RainbowKids has a particular focus in finding a home for babies and children with special needs.
The special needs of the children can range from blood conditions to heart defects, chromosome disorders and developmental needs, neurologic or orthopedic conditions, or impairments in vision or hearing.
Search PositivelyOrphaned.org to foster or adopt a baby with HIV.
Positively Orphaned finds home for babies and children born with HIV.
There are children within the U.S. as well as international babies available for adoption through their organization.
Volunteer at a local hospital to get more experience.
If you would like to gain knowledge in caring for a terminally ill baby, contact a local hospital or hospice center to find out more information about their volunteer programs.
Preparing to Take a Hospice Baby into Your Family
Become a foster parent.
You will most likely need to be a foster parent and care for a hospice baby through the fostering system before adopting them, and some states even require that families seeking to adopt to become foster parents first.
In this case, you will take foster parent training and get approved to foster.
Foster parents need to be at least 21 years old, pass background clearances, and be in overall good physical and emotional health.
The application process for fostering generally involves 5 or 6 scheduled visits to your home over the course of 10 to 12 weeks, where staff members gather paperwork, interview all family members, inspect the home for safety, and explain all training and education requirements.
Prepare your home.
Learn as much as you can about your new baby’s needs and interests before they arrive.
Obtain specific information about their developmental milestones and challenges from the organization that you are working with.
Use this information to prepare space for them and get supplies you will need for their care.
Clean your home and make sure any potentially dangerous items are stored away.
Obtain a crib, developmentally appropriate feeding and diaper changing gear, and toys.
Arrange for medical needs and treatment.
If you live in the same community as the baby you are fostering, decide if it is in the child’s best interest to continue with their current doctors.
If your home is not close to where the child is currently placed, identify providers close to you and have your baby’s caseworker arrange for the transfer of their medical records.
Prepare yourself emotionally.
Ask medical staff to explain to you any symptoms that occur close to the death of your baby, such as skin or breathing changes.
Knowing what to expect will help you to feel more prepared.
Seek support from friends, family members, a grief counselor, or find a support group of other parents of terminally ill children.
Fostering a Hospice Baby
Build a bond with your new baby. Once you become a foster parent, follow the medical staff recommendations for holding and feeding your baby.
Use “kangaroo care” or skin-to-skin snuggling to build a bond with them and help them feel safe and loved.
Get lots of face time with your baby, by looking into their eyes, mimicking their facial expressions, and smiling.
Respond within 30 seconds to your baby.
When your baby cries, respond quickly by either talking to them, picking them up, or checking to see if they need changed or fed.
A quick response to your baby’s needs helps them to feel safe and loved, which is beneficial to their physical health.
It’s okay if sometimes this is not possible, and you need a minute to yourself.
Enlist in the help of your support team of family or friends to help you.
Build a support network to help you through difficulties.
Talk to friends and family about your experiences with your baby, but also be sure to talk to others who are in a similar situation with caring for a terminally ill baby.
Make contacts through the agency you worked with during adoption, as well as groups such as Caregiver Action Network and Family Voices.
Caregiver Action Network and Family Voices are groups that help families in need of emotional and physical support as they care for ill and special needs children.
Moving onto Adoption
Learn the adoption laws in your state.
Adoption laws can vary considerably depending on the state where you live.
You will want to become familiar with your state’s policies on advertising for birth parents, expenses, consents to adoption, and adoption subsidies.
For an overview on adoption laws and qualified adoption professionals in your state
Select an agency to help you complete requirements.
The requirements for becoming an adoptive parent vary by state, but in general they include meeting the legal age requirement of 21, not having any major medical health conditions, and having stable emotional health.
If you have already participated with an agency for fostering, they will be able to help you with how to complete the requirements for adoption. Many of the requirements are similar.
Participate in a home study.
All prospective adoptive parents are required to participate in a home study.
This process involves education and preparation training courses, as well as the gathering of information about you.
The home study typically takes 2 to 10 months to complete, depending on waiting lists and your state’s training requirements.
Make the most of your time together.
Spend time with your baby and tell them how much you love them.
Sing to them and find ways to make them smile.
Take lots of picture to look at for after your baby has passed; you will be glad later that you did.