Monday, September 7, 2009

September PIPS

We attended our monthly Parents In Progress (PIPS) adoption meeting on September 1st. This month three families had their newly adopted children with them. There were two 10 month old boys from Korea and one 18 month old girl from China...all were adorable. One of the boys is the first child for a couple that we met at the adoption picnic a few months ago. When we met them, they had just received their referral and were proudly showing everybody the pictures of their son. It was nice to see him in person for the first time.

In addition to introducing their newest family member, the parents provide some information about traveling to the country of adoption and some of their new parenting experiences. This month we learned that the Holt adoption agency (that's who we work with in Korea) provides each adoptive family with a bag of baby essentials including diapers, formula, etc. This is good to know so that we don't travel with any unnecessary items. Another tip we heard was that if you're having a problem getting your child to calm down when you first adopt him in Korea, they are often calmed by going outside. The shock of moving from foster parents to their adoptive parents along with a new environment can be difficult for the child to deal with. When you bring them outside, it seems to help settle them down. Who knows if our child will be calm at first or cry. It's good to know that we can try different things that others have tried before us to help him deal with the change.

Our guest speaker at the September PIPS meeting was a pediatrician that specializes in dealing with adopted children. She has three adopted children of her own, so she has extensive experience as both a doctor and a parent. She provided us with a few handouts and decided to have mostly a question and answer session instead of just reciting information from her handouts. Here are some of the highlights...
  1. Before you travel, schedule your baby's first pediatric appointment so that it occurs right after you return. This will ensure that you won't have to wait too long for your baby's first checkup.
  2. The medical care in Korea is comparable to health care in the US.
  3. If children are underweight comparable to their age, it's not necessarily a concern. If a child has a head size that is smaller than the average child of the same age, this may be an indicator that the child may have cognitive issues in the future. The body has a natural defense to provide nutrients to the brain, even when there is malnurishment, so the head and brain can continue to develop at a rate that is close to normal. If there is severe malnurishment, that's when the head and brain are affected.
  4. When you return home, your child should have a thorough exam to include lab work. The accuracy of medical records varies from country to country. Korea is normally has very accurate medical records, but it's best to be sure.
  5. The pediatrician recommended that if possible you find a pediatrician that has experience working with kids adopted internationally. If that's not an option, you can have one of the pediatricians from the adoption clinic at Johns Hopkins conduct the initial exam.

The PIPS meetings are a great way for us to get educated, have fun, and stay connected with all of the other families that are adopting like us. We look forward to the meetings every month. We're looking forward to next month.