Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Medicals-- why are they so scary???

Oh this is going to be a heated topic.  I'm just going to tell you right now.  I'm going to point some things out that folks might not like nor agencies.  Hey, out of 13 years in the adoption community and 10 adoptions later, I think I at least get a right to discuss this topic.

So everyone pretty much freaks out over medicals.  Medicals that they have no control over and medicals that for the most part are not worth the paper they're written on.  Yes, I said that.  And I know there are great IA docs out there that mean well but frankly, you can't dx a kid or give an opinion on one that you've never touched before.  Sorry, but these are MY opinions based on MY experiences.  Now, let me tell you why I said that about IA docs.  I'll say it up front,  I have not used one.  I knew the kids were mine.  I just did.  In fact, one of my quotes to my agency for Nik when they sent me a picture was "I don't care what's wrong with him, he's my son."  They had sent me a pic saying they didn't know what was wrong w/ him yet.  Anyhow, people send their medicals off to IA docs.  What they don't know, is many times those docs(documents) are falsified.  Yes, falsified.  And yes, I'll give you an example.  Nik's medical was totally made up.  You could tell they never had his immunization records and I didn't catch it, the embassy didn't catch it, etc.  After his first checkup, the #'s were being recorded.  Computer spit them out and doc called us.  The immunizations he had in Russia were totally made up!  Yep.  How did we know?  Because the dates of his immunizations were BEFORE he was born!  Hard to do, huh?

So, when the IA docs get records to review how do they know what's true and what's not about a child.  No one knows.  No one knows b/c the people reporting it are not mom and dad.  Different people, different routines, different opinions.  One may think the child is aggressive, the other think the child is sweet.  See what I'm getting at?  In addition, sometimes the people at the orphanage don't even write those medicals.  Someone will come in from the social center, observe the kid and make conclusions.  Tell me that's not nuts.

Now, I am not saying all medicals are wrong as many families have had accurate medicals.  I'm just saying be cautious.  And IA docs.  There are families on the FAS boards now that had received low risk opinions.  I've also heard from many families over the years who don't know what to do.  They'll send off a medical to two different IA docs and get one high risk and one low risk opinion back.  Sorry but this confuses future adoptive parents even more.  Then they go over always second guessing everything.

People make assumptions w/ adoptive kids from EE.  I will give you a personal example of one of my kids.  I'll call the child X.  X came home & they were behaving like a wild animal at times.  They were banging their head against the wall and having night terrors.  I was at first told it was b/c I was a new parent.  Sought out a VERY reputable therapist/ psychologist in this area that has their own center.  Those from this area can probably guess by now.  Well known.  Head of the center met w/ us at Warren's work.  They have on site health care there.  Guy came in and sat down.  Told us, your child has been severely abused.  Your family will need years of therapy.  They may not heal, etc.  It will be expensive, etc.  We left feeling defeated.  However, something occurred to me while in the car on the way home.  That head guy everyone thinks is so awesome for behavioral issues and emotional issues never, ever even saw our child.  Never talked to them.  Never observed them.  Yet, jumped to the conclusion of abuse.  Wow.  And we almost believed and put our faith in this guy.  BTW, our child (well, this one) was NOT abused.  Does not head bang, etc.  Most of their issues were PI issues. 

Our medicals from Russia made our kids sound like they were on death's door.  And i know why no one committed to Logan or Reni.  Geez, we almost didn't ourselves!  It was said Logan was on antipsychotics, had ODD(oppositional defiance disorder), ran away (umm, yeh, this part is true but I'll explain that one later on as to why), had epilepsy, etc.  Tons of issues supposedly.  Nothing is wrong w/ Logan other than typical preteen crap that we all experience w/ kids.  We weaned him off things and he takes no medication.  Yes, he's defiant but it's not a disorder.  It's total preteen attitude all the way.  Point I'm trying to make is please don't believe everything you read.  Use the medicals as a guideline.  You will run into many surprises once home. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant.   Alyona's death bed heart defect, was a minor heart defect and she's fine.  Yeh, Summer is missing part of her brain but she too is fine.  Now, have have many w/ multiple mental health issues.  Those, you can't tell on paper.  Not a bit.

I think IA docs are great as guidelines but I do believe folks need to understand they are not there w/ the child at all times.  It's different.  Now, this is NOT a knock on IA docs as they do wonderful work at these clinics.  There is NO dispute there.  I highly recommend IA clinics once folks come home.  They are used to seeing all sorts of things and can point you in the right direction.  However, if you are depending slowly on an opinion to see if you want to accept a referral, I'm not so sure about that.  Unless it is obvious, it would be a very hard judgement call.  Did you know we almost did not go see Logan & Reni?  The week before we got a horrendous medical update.  However, since we have experience in adoption medicals, we knew to take them w/ a grain of salt and to physically see the child first and not jump to conclusions.  Glad we didn't believe that medical.  Look what we would have missed out on!

Now, this all being said, you can have a perfectly healthy medical and the child will end up having a ton of emotional baggage or attachment issues.  I have seen this happen.  It's happened to us.   Just b/c the child appears healthy on paper, does not mean the road is paved in gold and it's easy street.  No.  It's the things you don't see in hurt children that will take longer to heal and take everything you have and then some.  And even that & love sometimes are not enough & rehoming must take place.  I know this may sound extreme but you have no idea how many times this happens. 

There are medicals that come with international adoption.  Some are accurate.  Some are not.  Bojan's was dead on accurate.  The rest,not so much.  I just would like new adoptive parents to take all this in mind when considering a referral.  I know it is so hard w/ limited info and a few fuzzy pictures.  I always tell folks to go with their guts.  And again, I would use IA doc to get a baseline.  But what you also might want to do as a new parent is ask someone who's been there what things to look for.  What are some common terms in medicals.  Many times things are put on medicals to make the kids available for international adoption.  I have folks that I was in contact w/ for years and learned a lot about how Russian medicals worked.  The friend lived in Russia & helped the orphanage.  In Russia, they like healthy children to go to Russian citizens.  "sick children" are available for international adoption.  Now, no one write me or go up in arms as I KNOW there are healthy Russian adoptions that happen.  To make it look better on paper, the child has dx's that "appear" to be trouble but in reality are not.  Residual encelphalopy comes to mind and it's on almost all Russian medicals.  For them it means someone who has lived in an orphanage.  This used to be common place to put this on those medicals.  I don't believe they do it any more but it's been years since our last Russian adoption.  All I'm saying is many EE believe it is better for "unhealthy" children to be adopted by foreigners so their medicals will read as such.  I hope I explained it a bit w/ not sounding so harsh. 

Again, all this above is MY opinions based on MY adoption and MY information I have learned from various people who've lived in these countries and such.  Also, a lot based on the medicals I have seen over the years.  My own kids' medicals being part of that.  I don't write this stuff to scare adoptive parents.  I want parents to be very informed.  I was not when starting out.  I didn't know stuff could be made up on medicals.  Who would have thought!?  Not saying it happens all the time but I just want people to be ware.  Please.  Get an IA doc opinion.  Get opinions on how medicals are from others adopting from the same country.  I know the Russian medicals read a lot alike.  Some Bulgarian medicals as well.  All my kids were said to be delayed.  Truly, form your opinions once you meet the children.  Use the medicals as a guideline.  Hope I didn't step on too many toes.  I am aware this post will bring out reactions.  I understand that.  These are again just MY opinions.  Nothing more.  Please do not read this post the wrong way.  Not all medicals are made up.  Not all are wrong. Out of 10 though, I only had 1 truly accurate medical.  This is why I feel compelled to write on this topic.  I want future adoptive parents to really take everythign into consideration when reading a potential medical.  Okay, been reluctant to post this but hitting the post button. 

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