Will I Know the Health of the Birth Mother and Baby?

There are many questions during the adoption process. It is important to explore the medical, social and emotional needs of a child and whether you feel prepared to parent a child with a special medical or emotional problem.

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You will be asked to accept the fact that a healthy child may develop a medical, developmental or emotional illness at some later point. You will be asked to confirm that you will meet that child’s needs. To make a decision about a particular adoption, you should obtain as much medical information as possible, including that of the child, the birth parent(s) and family history.

In a domestic adoption, the birth parents are asked to complete a “Background and Medical Form.” Birth parents want you to know this information so that you can provide the best care to their child. The health of the birthmother is possibly the most important to know. Many forms include a 3 generational medical history. However, if a birthmother is young, she may not have detailed medical information on her parents and grandparents. It is also possible that the parents and grandparents are young themselves and have not yet experienced illness or medical conditions associated with aging. If a birthfather is unknown or unnamed, you will not get that family’s information either. The information you receive, from the birthmother’s OB/GYN during the pregnancy should be reviewed by your own OB/GYN, fertility doctor or a pediatrician. If you are adopting an infant, your pediatrician should talk to the hospital pediatrician at the time of birth. You should also consider arranging a way to share information in the future should the need arise. Possibilities include sharing information directly or through an attorney, adoption agency or intermediary.

In an international adoption, information on a child typically starts when the child comes into care at the maternity hospital or orphanage. Records include regular and sickness care, which varies from country to country, institution to institution. Some records include social and academic information for older children. It is important to have the information reviewed by a pediatrician familiar with medical care and terminology in the country from which you are adopting. You also want to explore with them any social and environmental conditions where your child is living that may affect their health or well being. When your child arrives home have them seen by a doctor specializing in adoption medicine. International Medical Clinics can be found at www.comeunity.com/adoption/health/clinics.html

As part of your adoption homestudy and with the professionals helping with your adoption process, you will be discussing the type of child you hope to adopt, including gender, age and health. You have to accept that you may have little or no medical information on the child or their biological parents. You need to consider the fact that a child may have medical problems at the time of placement or develop a previously undiagnosed health problem later. You will be asked to take that risk and assume full responsibility for the medical and financial needs of the child after placement.

As you enter an adoption situation, be realistic of the process, of the information presented to you and that which is unavailable. Seek professional consultation for medical issues and get emotional support when needed. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to meet your child’s needs.

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