For parents seeking to adopt a child from a foreign orphanage, the question of undiagnosed medical conditions that might pop up later or that might cause developmental or behavioral challenges down the line haunts the whole process. Some pediatricians are developing specializations in adoption medicine, which seeks to diagnose at a [great] distance via photos and by deducing and deciphering foreign medical records.
The NYT leads its story on adoption medicine with the case of Dmitry, a Russian orphan being examined by Dr. Dana Johnson, whose Minneapolis clinic evaluated over 2,000 kids remotely in 2005, almost 10% of the international adoption cases in the US:
Dr. Johnson will request more information. But even if Dmitry proves to be perfectly healthy on paper, Dr. Johnson will alert the prospective parents that most institutionalized children are marked by their early deprivation, some in minor and transitory ways and others with medical and developmental disabilities that will last a lifetime.Seeking Doctors' Advice in Adoptions From Afar [nyt]
Maybe that warning will cost Dmitry a home. Maybe the family will ignore it because they yearn for a child. The best result, Dr. Johnson said, is that they will go forward better prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead.