Child Adoption Referral Process Survey
A Note from St. Mary’s Operations Manager:
As an adoption professional, I get asked tough questions daily. Parents want to know about estimated time frames for the referral process, or the average judge’s waiting period, or the typical health of the children.
As an MBA, I am someone who likes to use numbers to make decisions, from the smallest decision to the biggest one.
As a Christian, I understand that I am not in control. I pray for the faith I need to entrust everything to God. I understand that I can’t always have it my way, and that some things, like having children, one way or the other, does not fall into my spectrum of control.
These are my thoughts that I wanted to share with you prior to sharing the adoption survey of our 22 St. Mary’s Parents who completed the adoption survey dealing with the child adoption referral process.
Referral Process Survey | St Mary’s Parents’ Input
In an attempt to provide useful information to future adoptive parents, which we understand is important to them, we’ve decided to do a survey. In the survey, we are asking our St. Mary’s Adoptive Parents about the child adoption referral process. 22 St. Mary’s Adoptive Parents responded. Questions included:
- Child’s health issues listed at time of referral;
- Medical Professional Opinion(s) Sought and Afterthoughts of the Parents;
- Children’s Current Health and/or any Health Related Issues;
- Preparation and Education for Adoption.
As adoption professionals seeking to do our best to serve all of our parents, including current and future ones, we want to put forth our best effort to provide better information. Now, this survey is NOT a scientific survey. Professional pollsters use different mathematical models to diversify risk, so that a sample, of typically 1,100+ can be designed to be representative of the entire population. This isn’t what we are doing here. This survey isn’t representative of the population of international adoption, or even of Polish international adoption. That isn’t our objective.
Our objective is to ask our parents their thoughts about these issues so that we can share them with you. Therefore, we gave this survey to St. Mary’s adoptive parents who have already adopted, have completed the entire adoption, including the child adoption referral process. They are back home now with their children adopted from Poland.
We hope that you’ll find this data useful, but we can’t stress enough that each and every child is different and so is each and every adoption. Reading data doesn’t diversify any of the inherited risks away.
We believe in describing the process through real life experience, and we’d love to put you in touch with some of these parents who took this Child Adoption Referral Process Survey.
FINDINGS OF ADOPTION SURVEY OF 22 ST. MARY'S PARENTS
Q1: Adoption Preparation
Part of the adoption preparation and education required for adoptive parents is a 10 hour online course designed for Hague Adoptions. This education takes parents through some of the issues which orphans may be dealing with. Each adoptive parent is to complete the course individually.
The question we asked appears in the yellow box in the blue chart. The findings were as follows:
- 73% ranked the course as: “Good! Prepared Us”
- 4% ranked the course as: “Did Not Prepare Us Enough”.
- 23% selected the category “Other” and commented.
Q2: Medical Info At Time of Referral
We know this is a difficult part of the process for our parents. Having been given photos and medical and social information prepared by the Polish authorities and having to make sense out of in 14 days. Its not easy. We understand. We believe that each and every decision is upto the parents alone and we stay out of their decision process. We hope they pray hard. We recommend they consult with a trusted medical professional. It is our experience, over our 15 years of experience that, the information provided by the Polish adoption commission tends to be overstated. However, we remind each and every adoptive parent that each child is different, and so is each circumstances. Of our 22 respondents, we received the following data:
- 57% thought that the medical info at time of referral was “Overstated”
- 38% thought it was “Spot on Accurate”
- 5% thought it was “Understated”
Q3: Did You Consult a Doctor?
Very simple question. 64% of the 22 respondents said they took the child’s medical information provided at time of referral to a medical doctor. 36% said they did not. Below, we ask additional questions to find out:
- What type of doctor they saw
- The parents’ thoughts on the results of the consultation.
Q4: What Type of Doctor?
Another simple question. Here is what the group of 22 respondents said:
- 64% said they took the child’s medical information to an “International Adoption Clinic”.
- 36% said they took the child’s medical information to a “Local Pediatrician they knew”.
Next we ask questions about the difference between the two types of doctors and their thoughts on the medical consultations they received as they were moving forward with the child adoption referral process.
Q5: Specialized Adoption Clinic Feedback
With this question, we address what our parents’ thoughts were after they consulted with the different types of doctors.
The question read: “How Was the Doctor’s advice Compared to Your Child’s Actual Heath”?
Of the 64% of respondents who said they took their info to a “Specialized International Adoption Clinic”:
- 56% said they thought the consultation gave them a “Pretty Accurate Evaluation” of the child’s health. (As the doctor reviewed the referral info)
- 44% said they thought the doctor “Was convinced the Child’s Health was WORSE than He/She really was” (therefore overestimating the issues listed in the child’s report at time of referral).
Q5 Continued: Local Pediatrician Feedback
With this question, we address what our parents thought after they consulted with their different types of doctors.
The question read: “How Was the Doctor’s advice Compared to Your Child’s Actual Heath”?
Of the 36% of Respondents who said they took their info to a “Local Pediatrician We Knew”:
- 100% said they thought the consultation gave them a “Pretty Accurate Evaluation” of the child’s health.
- 0% said they thought the doctor “Was convinced the Child’S Heath was WORSE that he/she really was”.
Q7: How is Your Child’s Health Today?
The question read:
“Overall, how would you describe your child’s health/issues at present day?”
Of the 22 respondents who are back home with their kids from Poland after having completed their adoption using St. Mary’s:
- 70% said “He/She is Doing Very Well”
- 25% said “He/She is Accelerating Much Faster Than We Thought”
- 5% said “He/She is Catching Up Slowly”
- 0% said “My Child is Still Struggling With the Issues Listed in the Referral Info”
ADVICE OF OUR ADOPTIVE PARENTS
The last question of our adoption survey was:
Please give advice for future adoptive parents in regards to the referral process?
Below is their comments to this question.
Again, these comments are not written by Saint Mary International Adoptions, and they are not the opinion of Saint Mary International Adoptions. They are the comments of the 22 respondents who participated in the survey. The respondents are real adoptive parents that have completed the entire Polish adoption process through Saint Mary International Adoptions.
Do your research. Take the child’s medical info to an international adoption specialist. Our dr was not only a pediatrician, but an international adoption specialist who also had adopted internationally. Be brutally honest with yourself on what medical issues you can handle. You want to be able to give the best of yourself to your child(ren).
Don’t let the wording in a referral scare you. There are a lot of terms/words that sound worst than what they actually signify. If you have any questions, have a Dr. go over the information and explain what everything means. We had a phone conference with a pediatrician who specializes in intl. adoption and who had adopted three children from Russia. She was able to go over the referral and look at the pictures we received in order to give us an evaluation. We had pretty much made up our mind, that was just added reassurance. Also, we had the confidence of knowing that God wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t handle; that in itself was reassuring.
Pray a lot! Have the referral reviewed by a medical professional, but also talk to other adoptive parents who have been through a similar situation. Ultimately, you will just know. We had our mind made up about accepting the boys before we even spoke with the medical professionals. We just wanted to make sure we knew how to best help them.
Tue job of an international adoption doctor is tell you worst case scenario. Also, no one can diagnose children by looking at 300 pictures and 700 words of text. Finally, FAS isn’t really a concrete diagnosis until the school years and the effects of it are probably lessened by a stable family life.
Definitely look at the medical part closely and do your research. Look at information on developmental milestones reached (or not), school (if applicable), and check weight, height, and birth Apgars/head circumference/weight against the Denver Developmental Scale. Compare pictures to signs/symptoms of conditions (ie FAS has a “look” to it as do other neurologic/physical issues). Take all the information together to make your decision and don’t fixate on one detail or diagnosis. The child is the whole of his/her background; not bits and pieces. Lastly, pray to be given and answer but be prepared that the answer might not come until you take the leap of faith, accept the referral, and meet the child in person. Only then will you truly know 🙂
The referral process is an emotional journey whether you accept your first child or your third, but you don’t want to accept a child just to accept; it has to be right for you and your family. Say a prayer while you’re waiting and before reading the medical, look at the picture; we did and knew right away she was our daughter.
Be cautious when using a pediatrician who has an international adoption clinic. We had experience with two. The experience with one was not good. The second one was excellent. Consider what they say but take it with a grain of salt. Do not think twice about getting a second opinion. Consider their experience and what exactly qualifies him or her as an international adoption specialist.
Just follow up with a phone call to families once a week to check in even if there is nothing to report. The waiting is by far the hardest part. Also in our experience, during the home study having ANY bit of Polish heritage or celebrating any Polish traditions or anything that can be added stating you are learning Polish helps the process along and may get you a healthier child.
Parents need to understand that love and stability really do help children overcome the challenges they present in their orphanages. When we adopted P****a, her shell of institutional living shed every day. It was amazing to watch her emerge as a healthy, happy child – just like her siblings. Adoption changes everything!
The process at times seems very long. Sometimes it feels we do things over or two or three times before it is right. Hang in there. Pray Get into a group that you feel you can be honest. These people should be ones that are a few steps ahead of you in the process. Don’t compare your insides with others outsides. Learn as much as you can. Pray Remember that the people who are not adopting and have not don’t always know what to say or what to ask. I am sure I could write more but. That is it for now.
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