No, we didn’t take Duke there for his annual checkup. Monday was our initial intake meeting with Dr. Alice Rothman at the Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic. We already counted ourselves blessed to be right around the corner from one of the country’s top pediatric health care hospitals, and that was before we learned of the clinic dedicated solely to the care of internationally adopted children.
Dr. Rothman has a general pediatric practice with Vanderbilt, but she dedicates one day a week to running the International Adoption Clinic out of the hospital. The clinic serves to guide adopting parents through the process of reviewing pre-adoption medical files to preparing them for travel abroad and finally to examining the children upon first arriving home. Being located in the hospital gives the clinic access to every specialist imaginable to help review the pre-adoption medical files and weigh in if necessary. This is unprecedented in the adoption world.
I’d like to back up a tad and explain just what I mean by ‘pre-adoption medical file’. It sounds so clinical, but in reality this file is how we will “meet” our child for the first time.
Each month, the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) releases a shared list of special needs children to all of the placing agencies around the world. Our placing agency, Holt, will work feverishly on that day to place holds on specific children they feel would be a good match for one of their families in process. This hold is temporary (in the range of 24-48 hours temporary!) so that if a match is not accepted the child can be released back into the list for referral to another waiting family. Matches are made based primarily on a medical conditions checklist that each family is required to complete earlier in their process. The number of children on the list, the volume of waiting families, and the types of medical conditions contained in the list are what dictate the likelihood of a family receiving a match in any given month.
If we are lucky enough to receive a match that month, Holt will call us and provide a general description of the child before we agree to review the full medical file. They will essentially just tell us the age of the child and what her primary special need is (for example, cleft lip/palate or atrial/ventricular septal defect). If we feel comfortable with the general description, Holt will email the file to us and we will get to lay eyes on our daughter for the first time. My heart is pounding out of my chest just writing about this.