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Definition of Special Needs (for the purpose of Adoption)

Definition of Special Needs

Broad Classification


a. Older children over 5 years/sibling group

  • All these children must be evaluated by a professional for their medical/social/emotional/intellectual capacities, at the time of entry into the agency. Age proof must be done by a doctor. This record should be carefully monitored and upgraded regularly.
  • Counselling and therapy if required should be available to these children.
  • A video Clip/photo album of the child may be made for the PAP
  • The agency should place these children in inter-country adoption only if the foreign agency has a good record of older child placement.
  • To avoid further delays the following time stipulations are recommended.

    CWC - CWC may declare legally free expeditiously within the framework of the JJ Act.

    ACA - A clearance certificate may be issued within 10 Days if documents are in order - No inter ACA Referral.

    NOC by CARA - May be issued within 10 days.

b. Children 3-4 years old

  • Prospective Indian families must undergo additional interviews/counselling by professionals other than the social workers of the institution, who will assess their ability to parent an older child with a previous history. Parents can also attend group counselling sessions and pre-adopt courses. This also holds good for Indian families adopting older children.




Low Birth weight

  1. It is assumed that a child with a low birth weight at the time of admission is afforded adequate care and treatment to ensure his progress. At the time when the child is legally free for adoption an assessment of milestones in terms of the development chart for Indian children, must be done. If the child is marginally delayed in gaining normal weight, the child may not be listed as “special needs”.

    If a child is at this time is severely delayed according to the panel of pediatrician, the child may be listed as “special needs”.

    ACA - A clearance certificate may be issued within 10 days if documents are in order - no inter ACA referral

    NOC by CARA - May be issued within 10 days.

  2. Septicemia and other illnesses do not automatically label the child as being “special needs”, if there are no serious long term residual effects like hearing impairment. Otherwise the agency must wait out the normal time-frame, before making a placement in inter-country adoption.

  3. Small correctable conditions such as an extra finger, or “mild deformity” may not be considered as “special needs”



Obvious conditions and serious medical conditions should be fast tracked.


1 Clear Cut


Spina Bifida


Ichthyosis (Collodian baby)

Chronic Asthma

Limbs Missing

Heart conditions of a severe nature

Fingers-toes missing

Hepatitis B+


Blood disorders

Cleft Lip-Cleft Palate/Cleft Lip



Thalasemia Major

Partially Blind

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome



Partially Deaf


Severe disfiguring birth marks

Indeterminate sex

Hare lip


Pier Robin Syndrome (no tongue)

Neurological disorders



Ectodermal displacia (no sweat glands)

Speech dysfunction-dysphasia


(Brain Lesion)


Chronic Eczema


Epilepsy (does not include fever induced convulsions)

Acute Ricketts

Severe Seizure disorders


Severe Orthopedic conditions



*This list is not exhaustive of severe conditions that need urgent care.  There are several other conditions that also come in the category of ‘Special Needs’.  The  other  conditions  as found can be added to the list.


ACA - A clearance certificate may be issued within 03 days if documents are in order - no inter VCA referral


NOC by CARA - May be issued within 10 days.





Prior traumatic background, disruption, long institutional care, difficult circumstances, psychiatric and mentally challenged parentage.

  1. Based on professional evaluation, if it is observed that such cases are hard to place in domestic adoption, such children can be treated as special needs

Transfer of children to RIPA


While the transfer of children from one agency to another will be as per JJ Act 2000 (amended in 2006) related State Rules and In-country Guidelines on Adoption-2004, additional safeguards for special needs children are required. Release of older children/special needs children to RIPA by other adoption agencies, children homes, or Sishu Grihas, can be facilitated by the ACA and a team of professionals consisting of the following:

  • Development Pediatrician (1)
  • Child Psychologist (1)
  • Pediatrician (1)

The Team shall be appointed by the ACA who should certify a  child  as  “special needs”.  These doctors should be independently chosen by the ACA for their expertise and credibility.



I         Copy of the Height and Weight Chart
II        Family’s consideration of Possible Special Needs


(The above is based on the recommendations of the Committee on “Special  Needs” finalized on 22nd March 2005)



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