This is the first in a three-part series about how increasing your flexibility and opening yourself up to more situations on your Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) can drastically reduce your wait time, as a hopeful adoptive family.
Check back on this blog to read our next two parts in the series! In the meantime, reach out to your American Adoptions specialist if you’d like to make changes to your APQ.
As an adoptive family, it’s likely that you have preferences in place for the characteristics you want your adopted child to possess. While the more specific your preferences are will help narrow down the search for a prospective birth mother, the fewer adoption opportunities you are open to may directly increase your wait time to find a match.
Specifically, your openness for potential medical conditions is the number one factor that will increase/decrease your wait times.
Early in your adoption process, you will fill out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ), which will be broken into sections and covers general information about you, budget information, preferences on race combinations, openness for in-utero substance exposure, and your openness for birth mother and extended family medical history and the health risks that could impact your child.
Medical History and the Impact on Potential Wait Times
While each section is important and will influence your overall adoption experience and timeline, your openness for birth mother and extended family medical history impacts your overall wait time the most. While we don’t want shorter wait times to persuade you into an unwanted or unprepared situation, increased flexibility in your APQ is highly encouraged.
But what exactly are you opening up to? What does the medical history include, and how will it affect your adopted child?
When we say “opening up,” we mean your preferences on the medical risk that you would be ok with if your adopted child were to possess. Some potential health conditions can be detected through medical history, others may be determined through tests completed during pregnancy.
When it comes to prospective birth mothers, the most common birth parent health risks we tend to see when discussing medical history include:
- Depression, diagnosed
- Bipolar disorder, diagnosed (medication prescribed)
It is important to keep in mind when seeing these “medical risks,” that they can be related to the environment someone was brought up in, or their current living situation. Although ADD/ADHD is considered to be genetic by many researchers, there are many ways to lessen the effects and limit the overall impact.
When discussing medical history for a prospective birth mother’s extended family, the most common extended family “medical risks” we see are:
- Bipolar disorder
Although these can seem like drastic “health risks”, it is essential to note that adoption specialists are not medical professionals. This information is acquired through a form similar to your APQ, and in many cases, an expectant mother is recalling family medical history off of her own memory and not through documented medical records.
By no means are we trying to undermine a pregnant mother’s listing of extended family medical history, but often it is based on the memory of a specific family member or unique scenario and not a hereditary health problem.
This is where limitations can be formed.
Opening Your Preferences on Medical History
In many situations, adoptive families are closed off to the possibility of their child obtaining something that is not even a guaranteed or potential problem. Because of this, their ability to match with a prospective birth mother is lowered, as there are not as many available opportunities with their specific preferences — thus, longer wait times.
Every parent wants to raise a perfectly happy and healthy child. But often, adoptive families put too much emphasis on potential health risks and limit their openness to adopt a child whose birth mother or extended family possesses a “risky” trait in their medical history.
Before setting limitations, have you considered your own medical history?
We like to bring this question up because many of us have “health risks” that run in the family but have no impact on us specifically. Even more of us are unaware of something that may run in the family or been passed down. Almost no one has a “perfect” medical history. And, were you to give birth to a biological child, you would not be able to specify anything, from the shape of their nose to their medical history.
Taking this into consideration may give you better peace of mind and point of view when deciding what health risks you are or are not open to and how a prospective birth mother is responding to the medical history forms.
American Adoptions does everything in our power to consider every potential health risk your child may be impacted by. Through extensive conversations about medical history with birth mothers, tests during pregnancy, and more, we attempt to be as transparent as possible when dealing with such an important factor in your APQ.
In some cases, prospective birth mothers do not undergo prenatal care until it is time to deliver or choose adoption after delivery. In these instances, American Adoptions does everything to inform you of any findings or any mentioned medical history concerns, so there are no surprises or miscommunications.
At first, opening up your APQ to potential medical risks can be scary. But, adoptive mom Kelly did it and is glad that she did.
“I started looking at it like, ‘If American Adoptions called me today and said I could take home a baby, under what circumstances would I give the baby back?’” Kelly says. “And I realized that there were quite a lot of instances that I would be comfortable keeping the baby.”
Determining Your Preferences on Medical History
Understanding the risks of certain diseases, impairments, and more is important towards determining what you would be ok with as a parent of a child affected by them.
We always suggest discussing your concerns with a medical professional, as they will be able to provide you with the information you need on the risk percentages, impacts, and how your child’s future could potentially look if they were to have a specific disorder or disease. You might be surprised by how common most health risks are, and how many of those “risks” affect children very little, if at all.
At the end of the day, we never want you to make a choice you are not comfortable with or feel unprepared to support.
The goal of adoption is to provide your child with a lifetime of love and care. Certain health risks can influence the financial, physical, and emotional support a child needs. Not everyone is ready for such a commitment, and that is ok!
Make sure your preferences align with what you are able, ready, and comfortable with. This will make your adoption process as successful as possible and your transition into parenthood flow as smoothly as possible.
American Adoptions has over 30 years of experience helping adoptive parents determine their preferences on what potential health risks they are open to. We are here to help walk you through the APQ process, answer any questions you may have, and provide the guidance you need to make the best decision.
Call us at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our online form to get more information on health history and becoming more flexible with your future child’s medical history!