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Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology


Health Care Support Issues for Internationally Adopted Children: A Qualitative Approach to the Needs and Expectations of Families
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Author: Olivier Lesens et al.

by Olivier Lesens, Anna Schmidt, Florence De Rancourt, Véronique Poirier, André Labbe, Henri Laurichesse, Laurent Marty, Jean Beytout, Philippe Vorilhon

Background

Families of internationally adopted children may face specific problems with which general practitioners (GPs) may not be familiar. The aim of the study was to explore problems faced by families before, during and after the arrival of their internationally adopted child and to assess the usefulness of a specific medical structure for internationally adopted children, which could be a resource for the GP.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We conducted a qualitative study using individual semistructured guided conversations and interviewed 21 families that had adopted a total of 26 children internationally in the Puy de Dome department, France, in 2003. Quantitative data were used to describe the pathologies diagnosed and the investigations performed.Our study showed that the history of these families, from the start of the adoption project to its achievement, is complex and warrants careful analysis. Health-care providers should not only consider the medical aspects of adoption, but should also be interested in the histories of these families, which may play a role in the forming of attachments between the adoptee and their adoptive parents and prevent further trouble during the development of the child. We also showed that adoptive parents have similar fears or transient difficulties that may be resolved quickly by listening and reassurance. Most such families would support the existence of a specific medical structure for internationally adopted children, which could be a resource for the general practitioner. However, the health-care providers interviewed were divided on the subject and expressed their fear that a special consultation could be stigmatizing to children and families.

Conclusions/Significance

A specific consultation with well-trained and experienced practitioners acting in close collaboration with GPs and paediatricians may be of help in better understanding and supporting adopted children and their families.

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