When considering adoption, it is so important for families to be familiar with the many unknowns, including the possible physical and emotional needs of the child. Children who have been orphaned face a wide range of medical concerns that can be rare or uncommon in our culture. However, with proper education regarding what medical issues most commonly impact waiting children today, adoptive families can move confidently toward helping their child find healing.
Here are four common medical concerns that can impact a waiting child:
- HIV/AIDS – Over 17 million children have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a surprising percentage of these children are affected by the virus themselves. Additionally, children who have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic can often find themselves ostracized by their own communities due to the cultural stigma surrounding the disease. Those who have contracted the virus are often not able to receive proper treatment even within an orphanage setting due to inadequate resources. However, while HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease that currently has no cure, coming into a loving adoptive family that can provide for their medical needs gives them the opportunity to manage the infection and live a long, happy life.
- Malnutrition – Malnutrition is an extremely prevalent problem for children who have been orphaned, both in prenatal and postnatal phases. Prenatal malnutrition occurs when, due to circumstances like extreme poverty, a mother cannot obtain and maintain the proper nutrients to keep her child healthy prior to birth. For children who have been orphaned, postnatal malnutrition is a very common risk. Even when under the care of an orphanage, a child may not have access to a healthy diet due to limited resources. While malnutrition is a serious problem, adoptive families can work with a pediatrician or nutritionist to discover the best protocol for treating malnutrition and mitigating any lasting effects.
- Growth & Developmental Delays – Growth and developmental delays are very common among children who have been orphaned. The specific cause of these delays can range broadly including such factors as institutionalization, premature birth, low birth weight, prenatal alcohol exposure, malnutrition, and genetic disorders. While delays can pose significant challenges to a child entering their family through adoption, the good news is that a great deal of progress can result from simply stepping into a loving and attentive family. With time and care, children from hard beginnings can move into greater health and wholeness through the connections and resources that a family can offer.
- Parasitic Infections – Similar to malnutrition, parasitic infections such as tapeworms and giardiasis (a parasite that lives in the lower intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients) can be common medical risk for children who have been orphaned. Parasitic infections are most often caused by little to no access to clean food or water, a common issue in many parts of the globe. Often, these types of infections can easily be treated once your child is home.
Restoring hope to a waiting child through adoption is a life-changing experience for all involved. While medical concerns and unknowns can often feel daunting to consider, being knowledgeable in what to look for once your child is home is a very practical way to address the unique medical concerns your child may face.
Through Show Hope’s Care Centers in China, we strive to address these and other pressing medical concerns that impact waiting children. Whether you are walking with us in prayer or through financial support, you are helping to transform the lives of precious children. We cannot wait to see all that God will do when we work together to bring hope and healing to waiting children around the world!