When my husband and I went through the adoption process, we had to sign a paper stating that we understood that our adopted child was not “warranted” to be healthy for the rest of his life. Of course, the terminology used was less blunt, but that was the basic gist. The social worker also talked to us about this issue face-to-face, stating that while the adoption agency was responsible for accurately representing the health of the child at the time of placement, the agency could not guarantee that health issues would not arise later. The social worker even provided an example of a child who had developed a serious health issue a few years after her adoption through that agency. There was no way that anyone could have seen that health issue coming.
Our agency provided us with a very thorough health history for both birthparents, so we could make an educated assessment about the health of our adopted child. We were aware that my son’s birthmother smoked throughout the pregnancy, so we had fair warning that our son could develop asthma or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, he did develop both disorders, and he came with no “bumper to bumper” warranty to pay for the resulting medical expenses.
Adopted children are not property, and they do not come with warranties. Even a child that is born to a woman who does everything “right” during her pregnancy can develop a serious medical condition, whether that child is raised by his biological or adoptive parents. This knowledge is sobering, especially for people who dream of a raising healthy child.
Adopting a healthy baby was a priority to my husband and me. On our application to adopt, we did not even fill out the information about which health risks we would consider. I drew a line through all 23 health issues and wrote in large letters, “We prefer a healthy baby.” I did not choose to adopt a child with special needs, but I am raising one nonetheless.
Life comes with no guarantees, and we, as parents, must rise to the occasion when life goes a different direction than we planned. Even the best planning and screening does not guarantee that your adopted child will be 100% healthy. You can hedge your bets, but the rest is up to Mother Nature.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt