As a paediatrician, especially one who specialises in child development, I am often called upon to assess and support families through the adoption process. The main areas that a paediatrician can help with are two –

(1) Pre – adoptive:  The initial assessment of medical reports of the child that prospective parents are given, and

(2) Post-adoption: Clinical evaluation of the child and guidance to the parent regarding
medical issues, growth, development, nutrition and immunisation.

As a prospective adoptive parent I would suggest finding a paediatrician you are comfortable with before you start the adoption process. An initial visit will help to know the doctor and discuss any questions you might have. This is especially important if this will be your first child. It is also important for your doctor to know about you the parents and your family structure, expectations etc.

Recommendations from friends or colleagues are generally better than random internet reviews or ratings of doctors. Once you have a doctor you are comfortable with and you have begun the formal adoption process then he/she should be able to review the all-important medical report of the child. Blood test reports, birth weight and current weight and developmental milestones attained are all important factors in deciding the suitability of a child for a family. The doctor might also suggest asking for further specific information depending on the specific situation, but NO further invasive testing or (blood tests) should be asked for. Once these basics are in place then it is your heart that makes the decision.

After adoption your paediatrician should ideally be your trusted support and information source for the rest of childhood. All children irrespective of whether they are with birth families or adopted families will face some challenges while growing up – development,
growth, behaviour is always highly individual in patterns and require some guidance and occasional intervention. A doctor who knows the child and family well can be a great asset in recognising problems early and resolving them and of -course medical care during illness and immunisation of the child (including catch-up vaccinations if necessary) are a definite part of paediatric care.

Personally the happiest reward for a paediatrician is when we sign children out of our care and into adulthood as happy and healthy individuals with a life of possibilities waiting for them. It is doubly sweet when the child is one who began life with a lot of unknown variables, but has gone on to fulfilment, success and happiness!


Dr. Vanathi Sethupathi is a paediatrician with a special interest in child development and behaviour. She completed her MBBS from Madras Medical College and MD (Paediatrics) from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.

She currently lives and practices in Erode, Tamil Nadu.

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