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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Adoption Referral Parameters: “Healthy” or “Normal”?

During the adoption application, adoptive parents (APs) are often asked their preferences. “One hundred percent healthy” is rarely presented as a possible box to be checked.

“Healthy, with minor correctable issues,” is usually the best case scenario.

“What does that mean”? Benedetto and I asked our social worker when we were but newbie novices to the international adoption field.

“Oh… anything from a cleft palate, to a clubbed foot, to crossed eyes,” she replied, observing us shift uncomfortably, “all correctible with a surgery or two.” Never having been exposed to any of the above made the possibilities even more scary.

The point being, most of us newer to the wild and wonderful world of adoption had not a clue as to what questions needed asking. And no agencies were about to admit that those questions being asked were not about to get any straight answers from them any time soon.

“Your referral is three years old, cute as a button, and asks every day for a mommy. The child is healthy.”

Besides the phony-baloney alarm that should definitely be ringing in your head, you must be able to read inbetween the lines. A “healthy” child available for adoption means he or she has been tested for AIDs, TB, and syphillis. Period. The child may still have developmental delays which are, or are not, reversible, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD, RAD, Downs, CP, scabies, and more. “Healthy” and “normal” may be two entirely different issues.

Let the adopter beware.

You will only know the mental, emotional, and physical health of a child around school age and up. Before that, it’s difficult to assess anything beyond the physical. Concrete thinking is not abstract reasoning, plus executive function and impulse control grow increasingly expected, and vital, and noticed as the child progresses in school and life.

But there are always surprises. That’s life, and that’s Eastern European adoption. That’s also teens, but we’ll save that topic….

For our first child, we wanted cute, sweet, smart, and healthy, i.e., perfection. We pretty much got it.

After the first, the anxiety dissipates and most of us come to realize that any child that’s ours will be perfection… one way or another.


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