We urge you to carefully consider a child's medical condition and special needs before accepting a referral. The type and quality of medical information about a child can vary greatly between countries. Your adoption agency will provide you with as much information as possible about the health of a particular child, but it will not be able to guarantee that the information is complete or up-to-date. Sometimes, the information about a child eligible for adoption will be more comprehensive from Convention countries than from non-Convention countries.
Children eligible for adoption often have health conditions that are common in developing countries, but that can be prevented in the United States. Some children have more serious diseases, such as tuberculosis and HIV. Children's health can also be negatively affected by living in an institution.
If you are adopting a child from a Convention country, your accredited adoption service provider is responsible for providing you with an English-language translation of the child's medical records. It will provide this to you no later than two weeks before the adoption or two weeks before the date when you travel to the child's birth country to complete the adoption (whichever is earlier). Accredited adoption service providers must make reasonable efforts to obtain available information, including the following:
- The date that the Convention country or other child welfare authority assumed custody of the child and the child's condition at that time;
- History of any significant illnesses, hospitalizations, special needs, and changes in the child's condition since the child came into custody;
- Growth data, including prenatal and birth history;
- Specific information on the known health risks in the specific region of the child's birth country;
- If a medical examination of the child is arranged, the date of the examination, and the name, contact information, and credentials of the physician who examined the child;
- Information detailing all tests performed on the child;
- Current health data;
- Information about the child's birth family, cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic background;
- Information about the child's past placements prior to adoption; and
- Dates on any videotapes and photographs taken of the child.
NOTE: Unless extenuating circumstances involving the child's best interests requires a more expedited decision, an accredited adoption service providers may not withdraw a referral until you have had two weeks to consider the medical and social needs of the child and your ability to meet those needs.
Medical Exam for a Visa
Every immigrant visa applicant must undergo a physical examination by a physician who has been designated by the U.S. Government (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)). The U.S. embassy or consulate can provide a list of such physicians, called "panel physicians" within the foreign country.
The medical examination focuses primarily on detecting certain serious infectious or contagious diseases or medical disabilities that may be a legal bar to visa issuance. It consists of a brief physical examination and a medical history. A chest radiograph examination for tuberculosis and blood tests for syphilis and HIV are required for immigrants 15 years of age and older. Applicants younger than 15 years of age are tested only if there is reason to suspect any of these diseases.
If the child is found to have any of these illnesses or disabilities (generally referred to as "ineligibilities"), the child may still be issued a visa after the illness has been successfully treated, or after a waiver of the visa ineligibility, if available, is approved by the USCIS. If the panel physician or the consular official notes that the child has a serious disease or disability, the parents will be notified and asked if they wish to proceed with the child's immigration.
Prospective adoptive parents should not rely on this medical examination to detect any other medical conditions. The scope of the medical examination is, by law, very limited. The purpose of the limited medical examination is to provide the USG with information to screen out persons with serious infectious or contagious diseases. It is not designed to evaluate the child's overall health or to provide medical care for the child. It will not provide adequate information on the child's short-term and long-term medical needs. Thus, adoptive parent(s) may wish to arrange an additional private medical examination for the child.
- Hepatitis A vaccinations and Hepatitis B screening - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Information about overseas medical evaluations and follow-up medical examinations in the United States
- American Academy of Pediatrics - Information about the health and well being of adopted children
- University of Minnesota's International Adoption Medicine Program - Clinic services, research, and education about the health needs of internationally adopted children