Children who join families through adoption can have unique medical, educational, developmental or behavioral issues, and it is important for both pediatricians and families to be aware of the psychological challenges that many adopted children experience. In an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, “The Pediatrician’s Role in Supporting Adoptive Families,” in the October 2012 Pediatrics (published online Sept. 24), the AAP recognizes that the characteristics of adoptive families are changing.
According to a 2007 National Survey of Adopted Children, approximately 2 percent of the U.S. child population is adopted, with 38 percent of adopted children coming from the foster care system, another 38 percent through private domestic adoption, and 25 percent adopted internationally. Black children were more likely to be adopted through foster care (35 percent), while 50 percent of white children were adopted through private adoption services. The majority of children adopted internationally were of Asian descent (59 percent). In addition, blended families, families with gay or lesbian parents, and single-parent adoptions are increasingly more common.
The AAP recommends that adopted children have a comprehensive medical exam soon after placement in an adoptive home, so pediatricians can provide appropriate medical care, make referrals if needed, and provide information and resources to help parents and children adjust as an adoptive family.