As a child becomes available for adoption in a foreign country, he or she is matched with prospective parents who can best meet that child's needs. The more flexible you are in terms of the child's nationality, age, and medical status, the faster you can be matched with a child. Ask your adoption agency about the status of foreign adoption in the country in which you are interested and how long it will take for the adoption to be processed. An excellent source of information is the Department of State's Office of Citizens' Consular Services. You may telephone this office at (202) 736-7000 for information on foreign adoption laws and the status of adoption in those countries in which you are interested. The State Department provides an automated phone system with recorded announcements on adoption processing for more than 60 countries. You can also access information about intercountry adoption on the State Department's Web page at http://travel.state.gov/adopt.html.
If a child is offered for placement, you should request all available information, especially information concerning the child's health and orphan status. If you have any questions, clarify them prior to accepting the placement or initiating the adoption or guardianship process. If you have any doubts about the child's medical condition, you may request additional information. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into committing to a placement if you do not feel you have sufficient information or if you feel you have been rushed into making the decision. Ask for a full translation of any medical information.
There are experienced physicians in the United States who evaluate medical records for children born abroad, including children cared for in institutions. Call the Clearinghouse for the name of a physician near you or access this listing via http://www.calib.com/naic/pubs/r_devev.cfm. This additional review by a U.S. physician may help you to make a better informed decision about whether to accept the placement. U.S. physicians willing to evaluate medicals and videotapes usually can provide their services within a week of receipt of the information.
In some countries, you may request that the child be examined by a "panel physician"-a physician used by the U.S. embassy or consulate for required immigrant visa medical examinations. This examination will only ensure that the child is free of diseases or signs of serious retardation. If any significant illness or disability is discovered, you will be provided with information on the condition.
Despite precautions, certain conditions, such as any learning disabilities and the delayed effects of early neglect or prenatal substance abuse, can only be identified over time. This is a particular concern for those adopting an infant or very young child. For those adopting an older child, a psychiatric evaluation may help to identify serious emotional or mental problems.
In some programs, once you accept the placement, you are responsible for the cost of the child's medical expenses and care in a foreign foster home or orphanage. The cost of foster care varies and can be expensive. To assure yourself that the child is receiving the benefit of the funds you provide, you may request that your adoption agency provide you with an itemized list of foster care or orphanage expenses and some proof that the funds are actually being disbursed to the institution or individual caring for the child.
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