What To Know About Special Needs Adoption In Texas


What To Know About Special Needs Adoption In Texas

Special needs adoption in Austin, Texas, doesn’t mean what many assume. For example, you may think of adopting a Down syndrome child as a special needs adoption.

Adopting a Down syndrome baby may be a special needs adoption, but that’s just one example. In this context, “special needs” refers to qualities or circumstances that make it harder for a child to get adopted.

Special needs adoption agencies may help children find adoptive homes. Someone choosing adoption in Texas may work through one to adopt a special needs child, or they could adopt a child internationally or through a private domestic infant adoption. Adding a child to the family through special needs adoption in Texas may also allow adoptive parents to access certain forms of assistance.

How Does Texas Define a “Special Needs Child?”

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), a child has special needs if one of the following criteria apply:

  • The child is at least six years of age.
  • A child is at least two years old and belongs to a racial or ethnic group that has been proven to be adopted at a slower pace than others.
  • The child is being adopted with their sibling.
  • The child is being adopted to join their sibling.
  • The child has a disabling condition.


A disabling condition may be physical, mental, or emotional. A licensed and qualified professional must diagnose the condition and clearly state it’s disabling.

When a child meets special needs adoption criteria, the DFPS may offer adoption assistance. Adoptive parents can receive various forms of support in these circumstances.

What Does Texas Adoption Assistance for Special Needs Children Include?

Financial assistance and benefits that may be available through Texas’s special needs adoption assistance program include:

  • Medicaid – When you adopt a special needs child in Texas, they may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid can offer financial assistance to help pay for a child’s medical care, eye care, and dental care. It can also cover related expenses, like the cost of medical equipment.
  • Adoption expenses reimbursement – You may incur various expenses throughout the adoption process. Adoptive families may be eligible to receive reimbursement for those expenses when they adopt special needs children. For example, you might receive reimbursement for court fees and related legal fees. The maximum you may receive is $1,200 per adoption.
  • Monthly payments – Depending on a child’s needs, you may also be eligible to receive ongoing monthly payments.


Whether you’re eligible to receive adoption assistance depends on whether a child meets certain requirements. The above Texas post-adoption services and assistance are available through two sources: Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and Texas’s state-run adoption assistance program.

Qualifying for Special Needs Adoption Assistance Under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act

Criteria to qualify for special needs post-adoption services and assistance under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act are:

  • The child meets the definition of special needs as provided above.
  • Reasonable efforts have been made to place a child without adoption assistance (unless doing so is against their best interests or raises child welfare issues).
  • Either DFPS or a private special needs adoption agency meeting minimum licensing standards must place the child.
  • The child is in an adoptive placement, and at least one of the following applies:
    • The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has determined the child is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
    • The child was eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in the month court proceedings to remove them from their home began AND in the month when their prospective adoptive parents filed a petition for adoption.
    • The child was eligible for foster care assistance under Title IV-E when they entered care, AND the month their prospective adoptive parents filed a petition for adoption.
    • The child currently lives in foster care with a minor parent (such as a birth mother), and Title IV-E foster care payments made on the minor parent’s behalf include the child’s costs.
  • All relevant parties sign the adoption assistance agreement before finalizing the adoption.


Not all children will meet these eligibility requirements. They may still be eligible for adoption special needs assistance through Texas’s state program.

Qualifying for Special Needs Adoption Assistance Under Texas’s State Program

Criteria to qualify for state special needs adoption assistance are:

  • The child must be ineligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance.
  • The child meets the definition of special needs at the time of signing the adoptive placement agreement.
  • Reasonable efforts were made to place a child without relying on adoptive assistance.
  • The child’s adoptive placement receives the approval of DFPS, which will serve as their conservator.
  • The child has less than $10,000 in resources.


As with Title IV-E adoption criteria, before consummating the adoption, all relevant parties must sign the adoption assistance agreement.

How Much Money Do You Get for Adopting a Special Needs Child in Texas?

an adoption lawyer is holding a pen and paper with a gavel and a couple of wooden figures

You may wonder how much money you’ll receive every month for a special needs adoption. The answer depends on numerous factors. They include:

  • Whether the placement of a child involved exceptional costs
  • The cost of childcare
  • Special maintenance costs
  • The cost of supportive educational needs services
  • The cost of helping a child maintain contact with siblings and other such family members
  • Routine maintenance costs


The above are the types of special needs that may qualify someone to receive special needs adoption assistance monthly payments. Monthly payment amounts will vary depending on the exact needs of the child. Speak with special needs adoption specialists to learn more about potential payment amounts.

Contact an Austin, Texas, Adoption Attorney

Navigating the special needs adoption process in Texas can be overwhelming. The adoption process is already complex. It can be particularly complicated when you’re adopting a child with special needs.

You don’t have to complete this process alone. At Smith Family Law, an Austin adoption lawyer can help you every step of the way. Learn more about our attorneys and services by contacting us online or at (512) 277-3166 today for a free case review.

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Written by: Smith Family Law

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