Your Newly Adopted Child’s First Doctor Visit

The Joint Council on International Children’s Services recently published a journal article entitled “Comprehensive Health Evaluation of the Newly Adopted Child.” This article focuses mainly on international and foster adoption, but can be helpful for infant domestic adoption as well.

Even before an adoption placement, a pediatrician can play a significant role in your family’s adoption journey. Adoption STAR recommends prospective adoptive parents speak with a pediatrician when deciding what health risks they are comfortable with in a match, and what risks they may not be as comfortable with. According to the article, in international or foster adoption, a pediatrician may be able to look at a child’s medical records to determine “growth trends and a preliminary assessment of developmental progress.” If a medical history of the child’s birth parents is available that will also be helpful to the pediatrician during the preadaptation visit.

Once you have received placement of your child it is important to set up a comprehensive medical evaluation. According to the article this examination should include “a thorough review of the medical history, including an assessment of health risks, a developmental assessment, and a complete unclothed physical examination.” While it is important to have your child examined by a medical professional, the article said that it is not necessary to overwhelm him/her by having all of the tests performed in one visit.

With international adoptions you are less likely to receive medical history from your child’s birth family then in an infant domestic adoption. The article says that “the evaluation of a child who has been adopted internationally will depend, to a large degree, on a complete physical examination and comprehensive laboratory screening based on environmental, nutritional, ethnic, and infectious disease risks.” The article also said that it would be helpful to find a pediatrician who is willing to “take advantage of current literature that specifically addresses issues that may be prevalent for a potential health risk secondary to the child’s country of origin.” If you child is older it may be necessary to have a translator to ensure good communication between the doctor and your child. With international adoptions, the article also said that parents should repeat any medical test their child received in his/her home country to ensure the tests met all US recommendations and regulations.

In the Adoption STAR Homestudy classes you will learn more about health risks and making tough decisions about what you and your family are comfortable with.

The article also looks into exams for hearing and vision as well as immunizations and “issues of adjustment.” To read the full article, please click here.