Monday, December 22, 2003

Pediatricians on adoption

Maybe somebody was looking for a nice project during National Adoption Month, or maybe doctors are starting to notice an increase in the number of adoptive kids in their practice, but the American Academy of Pediatrics delivers a nice Christmas gift to adoptive families with a clinical report called Families and Adoption: The Pediatrician's Role in Supporting Communication. It's about as nice an overview as you could find of the medical and psychological issues surrounding adoption, and since it's written in plain English and not doctor-ese it's suitable reading for parents and prospective adopters as well as their pediatricians. This paragraph, for example, tidily touches on an array of hot-button issues:
"During preschool and elementary school years, peer and school problems may or may not be the manifestation for underlying adoption issues. Behaviors commonly identified as characteristic of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may actually be signs of posttraumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, bipolar disorder, or sensory integration disorder. Some school assignments may be problematic for children who have joined their family through adoption. Children who have lived in foster care or in another country may not have pictures of themselves from birth or at an early age. Family tree assignments may be difficult, because children may be unsure of how to demonstrate their relationship to their biological family, adoptive family, and foster families. Information about biological ancestors also may be unavailable to the child for such a project. Tracing genetic traits through generations may be difficult even for children who have an ongoing relationship with their biological families. For children adopted by an extended family member, these simple learning assignments may create anxiety by highlighting family differences.1,13 Communication with educators about adoption issues at this age, as at other ages, may be necessary to help children deal with some of these difficult school assignments and insensitive comments about adoption, family circumstances, culture, race, and ethnicity."
I don't know that I'd want my kids' doctor to be tracing their every problem to the fact of their adoption, but it would be nice if I wasn't the only person considering that at all.

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