Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


Finding a Physician

An adoption-sensitive pediatrician or family medicine physician brings special expertise in caring for your baby’s medical and developmental needs.

Choosing a doctor is a big decision for any family, and the choice is especially important to adoptive families. There are several steps you can take to make your choice a good one.

Begin by asking your friends, neighbors, adoption support group members, and adoption agency for recommendations. With names in hand, check with the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Questions to Ask a Potential Family Doctor
  1. What is your philosophy about antibiotics?
  2. What is your philosophy about vaccinations and immunizations?
  3. Do you have daily phone-in hours?
  4. Who covers for you when you are on vacation?
  5. How do you feel about raising a child as a vegetarian?
  6. What is the average wait for well-baby appointments?
  7. To whom do you refer children who are developmentally delayed?
  8. Describe your medical training and special areas of interest.
  9. At which hospitals do you have admitting privileges?

to find out which doctors are board-certified. Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Adoption and Foster Care will be knowledgeable about medical issues for children adopted domestically, internationally, and via foster care. They have the knowledge to evaluate referral information regarding birthparent genetic history or substance abuse, as well as the effect of institutionalization on child development.


Schedule a short visit to meet a potential doctor (as well as his office staff), and ask some of the questions on the following page. Once you’ve chosen a doctor, decide whether you’ll consult your doctor or an adoption specialist to evaluate your child’s referral information or to review birthparent medical history.

Once your baby is at home, make sure that all appropriate post-adoption screening is carried out upon your child’s arrival home (see box).

In subsequent visits, you’ll want to know that your child is reaching developmental milestones at the appropriate times. In adoptions where no genetic history is available, you’ll want a medical professional with first-rate diagnostic skills to focus on areas of possible concern. The medical professional whom you select will be involved throughout your child’s growing years, so you, and your children, will need to be comfortable with him or her as your child grows.

Compiled from articles by Elliot A. Grossman, M.D., Deborah Borchers, M.D., and Marybeth Lambe, M.D.

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