Plan before you travel. Choose a pediatrician and interview them as soon as you know when you will be bringing your child home. Make sure the office has some experience with international adoption. Sit down with the doctor and talk about the country you’ve chosen and any issues to look for. We had to call the pediatrician while we were in Ukraine to talk to her about what we could expect with our son’s health issues. They were questions we didn’t know to ask beforehand because we had no information on his health. Talking to the doctor allowed us to gather more information while we were in the country. We would have lost that opportunity if we’d waited until we got home.
Gather Information while you’re in the country. You cannot just sign a records release and have all the child’s health history transferred to the new physician. Gather every bit of information you can while you are in the country. Our boys spoke Ukrainian and Russian – we did not. We used an interpreter to talk to them about health and history while we were in country. We talked to the orphanage staff and administrators. We worked to talk to anyone the boys knew.
You will be visiting the embassy doctor before you leave the country. Make sure you pay attention and write down any information you receive. That being said – don’t take the diagnosis they may give as gospel. Items that the embassy doctor thought might be important turned out to be nothing once we got home.
It’s not all true. So – you’ve gathered all the medical history you could while you were in country. Don’t be upset if you find some of it is incorrect. We tittered all the immunizations we were told our boys were given. Some were correct – some were not.
The first visit is a long one – but it’s only the first one. Take all the information you’ve gathered with you for that first visit. Also, bring something for your children to do while you talk. You will have a lot to go over and the children are likely to be worried and bored at the same time. The doctor will do a series of developmental tests, draw blood, do a full examination and schedule follow up visits. For the first six months our boys were home, we were at the doctor often.
As with everything, your attitude will be important for your child’s peace of mind. Our boys did not speak English when they came home. They took cues from my mood. If I was having an adventure they were too.
As with all things surrounding your adoption the doctor’s visit takes a little bit of thought and preparation and provides a wealth of joy afterwards.