Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What could be better than an Ethiopian welcome, FOVC style?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

International Adoption Clinic

Amelia (plus Mom and Dad) spent a few hours Thursday at the International Adoption Clinic at Children's Hospital. What a great and extremely useful experience! If you have, or will, adopt internationally, we heartily recommend taking your kiddo for an evaluation by an international adoption specialist. (FYI, at least at Children's Hospital in Denver, the children should be home for at least two or three months before being seen.)

The doctor at the clinic is named Matt Daley--he helped me by phone a few times before we even traveled, as we tried to figure out how to help Amelia gain weight "there" while we were "here."

We met--all together--with Dr. Daley, a nurse practitioner, a psychologist, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. The breadth of their knowledge and helpfulness was incredible! Here is a very simplistic view of what happened during the evaluation: First, they asked us a bunch of questions. Then, the physical therapist took Amelia out in the hall and "played" with her. Next, the psychologist offered Amelia various toys and objects and observed what she did with them, while taking notes and scoring some kind of an inventory. (We told Amelia, since she's in our family, this was likely the first of many therapy sessions she would need--ha!)Finally, Dr. Daley did a medical exam. The occupational therapist mostly watched the entire process and asked questions several times.

The team left the room to talk about their evaluations and to determine their recommendations for our family. When they returned, they gave us some incredibly comprehensive feedback. (We'll expect to receive their written report in a couple of weeks.)

Amelia was a bit of a tricky case, because we suspect she was premature, but no one knows how much. We know she had a hard time growing, and she's still so small. The cultural swaddling in Ethiopia affected her development as well. And here's the most interesting one to me: they think her severe reflux has played a major role in her development. Poor baby!

Anyway, they decided to evaluate her as an eight month old (even though, because of the prematurity, she might be more like, say, a seven month old). We learned she is one happy baby, extremely alert and highly vocal (we already knew these things, of course!). Her fine motor skills are nearly on track. But gross motor skills are lagging...because of all those factors I mentioned above. The team expects she will absolutely catch up and do just great. But to help her catch up sooner rather than later, she's going to have a few months of physical therapy. (Here's some more good news: The physical therapist will come to our house! Yea!)

We talked a great deal about attachment, too. (Things are going very well in this department, by the way.) Because of their expertise, the team was able to observe--and share with us--all kinds of insights about Amelia's temperament and how her own attachment with us is somewhat driven by her temperament. So interesting and helpful! Truly, the things we learned have a direct impact on how we'll be doing life as parents and as a family.

If you're on the fence about visiting an international adoption specialist, here's one more reason to consider doing so: The team told us they have been seeing more and more children adopted from Ethiopia. As these specialists have the opportunity to work with more and more Ethiopian children, it gives them more and more insight into how to best help adopting families.

Finally, here's something that should make families adopting from Ethiopia really glad: Everyone on the team told us they "like what they see" in terms of these delightful children. They said the children are healthy, adjusting well and were obviously cared for extremely well while they were in Ethiopia.

I know this is a wordy post, but I just had to share. (More pictures and less words to come soon!)


jendabi said...

Sounds like a very comprehensive visit. We have an international adoption clinic one hour away from me in Oakland CA; I am planning on using it when I bring my child home. It's nice to hear all the details. Thanks.

Leah Reeves said...

Thanks for that post. I wish we had a clinic like that here. That is great news about the children being so well cared for in Ethiopia. Great news!

Steph and Evan Griffith said...

It sounds like Amelia is in great hands. The Children's Hospital of Phila. has a similar clinic, and we plan on taking Hope there.


Lisa and David said...

What a fantastic post. GReat info for us and I will certainly take tigist there in 2 months time. I love what they said about the Ethiopian children and their does not surprise me at all. Not one bit. This culture is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for this post. I'm so glad she has a wonderful review and I can see how this could impact how you parent Amelia.