Little Dude is coming up on his 18-month medical check up and I am compiling a list of tests I want performed and issues I want to discuss. The list is long because basically since he came home five months ago, we have treated him for emerging conditions, but have done nothing extra. I am glad our doctor and I agreed on this approach and I wish more adoptive parents would consider it.
Recently on an adoption board I frequent there was a discussion about making an appointment with a pediatrician as soon as you arrive back in the U.S. with your child. I was obviously in the minority when I suggested you WAIT until you meet your kid, and then decide if you need an appointment immediately or if you can hold off for a few weeks.
If you are concerned with bringing home all the yick that is prevalent in care centers, which I can truly appreciate after three scabies treatments, get the necessary medicines before you go to Ethiopia and apply them there.
As for more complicated health issues, let me be clear, I am not saying ignore potential medical problems. First, if your child is experiencing illness your agency should alert you to this before you travel. However, if you do get to Ethiopia and you think your child needs to be seen immediately upon returning to the U.S. … CALL HOME and ask someone to make an appointment for you.
What I don’t think adoptive parents should do (there, I just shoulded most of the adoptive community) is come home (24 hour plane ride, anyone) and immediately rush their new, more-or-less-healthy, child off to a doctor, especially if the doctor is going to insist on vaccinations and blood tests. Yet this is what most adoptive parents do.
I know that APs proceed this way because they feel it is in the best interest of their children. But I also think there is a control issue at work here. During the entire adoption process the adoptive parents have almost no control. Even after the long awaited referral, APs still have no ability to “help” their child prior to getting him or her home. In western society we are taught that providing medical care is the most important thing we can do for our children. So of course it is the first thing we do when we are finally, finally, finally in control.
But here is a different idea, you might actually be hurting your child. Because you may inadvertently impede the attachment process. And I am betting that it is much easier to parent a child with lice and an upper respiratory infection than it is to parent a child with attachment problems.
When I said on the web board that I thought it was better to wait (which I tried to say in a non-judgmental way, without detailing every aspect of why) a woman countered with something like this, “Keep in mind that your kids have already had vaccines and blood draws in Ethiopia so this is nothing new for them.” I wanted to jump through my monitor, find this woman and throttle her. Yes, your kids have been poked and prodded before… but they had people they knew and trusted with them who could offer them words of comfort in a language they understood. Wake up lady, the child you love with all your heart sees you as a virtual stranger speaking a foreign language. And now you are going to deliver that tired and confused child over to more strangers who are going to hurt her on purpose… “Welcome to America, Kid.”
This is the kind of adoptive parent that scares me. She is seeing nothing through the eyes of her child. And even when someone presents an alternative view to her, she doesn’t consider it.
We all make mistakes as parents. I usually make about a million on a good day. I fear that I am too casual about the long-term effects of adoption, and way too much of a Pollyanna about race issues. But I remind myself daily to try to see things through the eyes of my children and make my decisions based on their needs, not mine. Right now what Little Dude needs is a trust fund so we can pay for all the medical tests he is about to undergo.