By Sara Bailey
Once you’ve learned that you’re expecting a baby with a physical or developmental disability, you may feel scared, overwhelmed, anxious, and overcome with sadness—especially as you think about the future and the ways in which your life will change after your newborn arrives. However, PsychCentral says that these are all normal feelings of expecting a special needs child—and you may even grieve the loss of the baby you were once expecting.
After you’ve given yourself time to adjust emotionally, it’s important to focus on the future and the different preparations you should make before the arrival of your new child. For instance, you might need to draft an estate plan, modify your home, and make financial adjustments to provide your child with the care he or she needs in the untimely event of your death. To learn more about these preparations, read on.
If you’re expecting a baby with a physical disability, you may need to alter your existing home to make it safer and more comfortable for your child—especially as he or she grows. When modifying your home, for instance, you may choose to alter your doorways, stairways, and bathrooms and install lifts, ramps, or handrails throughout the property. Moreover, small changes like replacing your doorknobs, flooring, and light switches will make the home easier and safer to navigate as your child grows and begins to wander around on his or her own.
There are several financial preparations you’ll need to make if you’re expecting a special needs baby—and it may be wise to work with an experienced attorney, financial advisor, and accountant as you plan for your child’s future. These financial preparations include:
- Drafting a will. Before the birth of your baby, it’s important to draft a will to ensure that your child will be well-cared for in the event of your death. Plus, you can use the will to name another legal guardian for your child in the event of your death.
- Obtaining a life insurance policy and special needs trust. To ensure that your child will be cared for if you should die, it’s important to purchase a life insurance policy as early on as possible. To keep your disabled child from being disqualified for government assistance under Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), however, you’ll want to open a special needs trust—as this is used to hold and allocate your child’s assets. Additionally, an ABLE account can help you to save for your child’s future without compromising his or her government benefit eligibility.
- Secure income. If you anticipate becoming a stay-at-home parent for years to come, you’ll likely want to find part-time employment you can pursue from home. A great way to ensure your work happens on your terms and your schedule is to become a freelancer. This will allow you to also pick and choose projects so you’re not inundated. Having a work plan can ensure you’ve got money coming in while you tend to your baby’s needs.
In addition to these preparations, you may choose to draft a letter of intent—as this can help future caretakers or guardians to care for your special needs child. While a letter of intent is not a legal document, it can be used to highlight specific information about your child—including details about the child’s daily habits, medical history, and care team.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself
After the birth of your baby, remember to care for yourself—as anxiety, depression, and chronic stress are common among parents with special needs children. To give yourself the care you need, speak with a therapist or join a support group that connects you to parents in similar situations. Additionally, things like yoga and guided meditation can help you to unwind and reduce stress as you adjust to the normalities of your new life.
While preparing for the arrival of a special needs baby can be an overwhelming time in your life, it’s also a time for celebrating the ways in which this new addition will change your life for the better. Plus, the more you educate and prepare yourself before your baby arrives—the easier things will be once you welcome your new son or daughter into the world.