International Adoptions: Choose Your Medical Professionals Before You Bring Your Child Home

Adopting a child from a developing nation can be very rewarding and also very challenging at the same time. Children from these nations may suffer from health issues, including malnutrition and internal and external parasites. It's also not uncommon for these babies, especially those who were malnourished, to have issues with their teeth. So before you bring your new baby home, there are a few steps you will want to take before you hop on the plane to pick up your international bundle of joy. 

Speak with Your Medical Insurance Company

A provision in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 states insurance companies must provide the same coverage to a child whether he or she is adopted or is a birth child. However, when that insurance coverage starts can vary. For example, some insurance companies may say its medical coverage doesn't start until a family has physical custody of a child. In other cases, the coverage may actually start before that point. So that is why it's important to speak with your insurance company. If you are working with an international adoption agency, you should also consult with it to verify the information you're getting from the insurance company is correct.

Set Up a Dental Appointment

If possible, you should try to find a pediatric dentist before your child arrives in your household. You will be less harried and will have time to talk with several dentists to make sure that one you choose will be right for your child. To find the right dentist, you should:

  • Choose a pediatric dentist. While you may be tempted to go with your own dentist because you're familiar with their practice, pediatric dentists typically boast children-friendly decor, toys and distractions, such as televisions and DVDs for kids. Staff members also typically wear colorful scrubs or ones adorned with cartoon characters. In addition, many pediatric dentists also offer prize boxes for their patients and use specialized equipment such as duck-shaped beaks to apply fluoride. 
  • Ask the children's dentist if they feel comfortable working with a kid who may not speak any English and may have never had any oral care before. It's possible the dentist will also make suggestions for treating your child. For instance, some practices reserve a day or time for children who are afraid of the dentist or may need time adjusting to the somewhat intimidating world of a dental practice.

Make Medical Appointments

You will also need to find a good pediatrician in your area, and you might also want to set up an appointment with a doctor or hospital that can perform a health evaluation of your child. Some physicians can also do an evaluation of videotapes of your prospective adoptive child so you can be prepared to deal with any health conditions that might be detected by the doctor. When your child finally does arrive in the United States, don't be surprised if they will need:

  • A number of immunizations. Depending on what country you are adopting from, it's very possible your child has had very few of the immunizations required in the United States.
  • Nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, children in many developing countries have had to exist on a very poor diet, so your doctor will probably prescribe supplements for approximately the first year of your newly adopted child's life. 
  • Cognitive and motor testing. Your physician may want to perform tests on your child to determine if there may be any problems so you can start treating them as soon as possible. 

By doing some of the preparation work ahead of time -- such as choosing a pediatric dentist and doctor -- you will then be able to spend more time with your newly adopted child when they do arrive in your household.