The dreaded medical sheet

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We worked on our formal application this weekend. It's going pretty fast because we've gathered most of the information for our home study and pre-applications. But we do have to fill out another medical sheet.

This part totally sucks.

The medical sheet lists out different potential medical issues children could have and you have to check yes, no or "will consider" for each one. It's something no parent ever wants to think about--that their baby may arrive with medical needs. Its an exercise in brutal honesty with yourself where you have to make a line in the "adoption sand" and say this is OK, but that is not.

Each time I look at it, it makes my stomach flutter.

Low birth weight--yes. But are we willing to take a child five pounds at birth? Three to five pounds at birth?

Premature birth--OK. How about if they are born at 36 weeks? 34-36 weeks? under 34 weeks?

We move on to the next questions. Heart disease requiring surgery. Heart disease that doesn't require surgery. Infectious disease. HIV. Meningitis. What the hell is CMV? VDRL? Blood disorders. Spina Bifida. Cerebral palsy. Physical impairments. Birth defects. Medical issues.

That's just the first page. 

For each medical malady I imagine a tiny face of a child who needs a family. An innocent little baby. I blink back tears.

I feel worse with each "no" box we check. The cumulative weight of the no answers adding up like a brick in my chest. The decisions grow increasingly difficult as we work our way down the page. I think of those faces, and feel like I'm saying "no, you aren't good enough for my family" to each one. It hurts.

We set aside the medical needs list, sending an email to our social worker and asking for her advice. We aren't medical experts and these decisions seem way above our head. We don't know what potential problems could stem from even something as seemingly "small" as premature birth. There is so much uncertainty about becoming a parent, in addition to adoption. Adding on the medical---it's a lot.

I feel like a terrible person. The Man reminds me that being brutally honest is as important to this child's life as it is to ours. We have nothing to be ashamed of or to feel badly about. We need to state exactly what we are able to handle. I know he's right. But it's still hard.

I am thankful there are those special people out there who can raise children with these needs. They seem so unafraid, so ready to tackle anything. I really admire them.

But as badly as I feel, I know that's not me.


  1. I would definitely just be honest and do whatever you feel comfortable with. I was 5 lbs at birth and born prematurely (which my parents decided they could handle) although I was placed in an incubator for about 2 weeks, I haven't had medical problems since--other than the common flu, cold, strep, stuff like that.... but it's definitely a gamble. Good luck!!!

  2. I hated the questionnaire we got. It's so specific and even gets into drug abuse and alcohol abuse on the mother's part. How do you answer the question how much alcohol exposure is ok? It really really sucks to have to consider outside the box cases too. We said no to a 3 week old baby boy. Our caseworker likened it to a leap of faith - I say it was a motorcycle jump over the Grand Canyon given the circumstances. Definitely keep a copy of your checklist so you can remind yourself what you are comfortable with. If you find yourself in that situation the emotions will totally take over and you might need a good jerk back to reality. At least I did.

  3. Oh, and maybe a call to a pediatrician will help? If you can find one now that you think you'll use they might answer some questions for you. (or that'll be a good weed-out exercise - if they spend time with you now, they're probably very good!)

  4. I *completely* understand... both our girls are special needs, and we found them on photolistings. Which, I think, is even worse than the list - you see their photos, their names (sometimes) and their history, and you have to say NO to oh-so-many. It's incredibly hard. But be nothing less than honest in choosing the needs you can handle. You'll be helping no one - not yourself, your family, or the child him/herself - if you claim to be able to handle more than you actually can. It does feel like you're rejecting someone for something they cannot help... but that's what it is. It's just a matter of what you want in your life. We chose girls who have lifelong needs, but the potential for independence someday. On the other hand, we turned down a referral (MAN was that hard) of a little girl who had the potential to need parental care throughout her life.
    I hate to blather on and pretend I know everything (because I definitely DON'T), but google all the stuff you don't know. It's worth your while to know exactly what you're saying yes or no to...
    Ok, I'll shut up now. Email me if you want to "chat" about it :)

  5. I hated doing the checklist. We went round and round about it for several days. I just felt that had we chosen to have bio children, we would not have any control over what sort of medical issues those children would have and it felt wrong "rejecting" potential adoptive children. However, I knew it was important for us to be honest. It really doesn't help anyone to accept a child whose needs you are not capable of handing.

    What we ended up doing was checking "will consider" everything on the list. We felt we needed all the info on a particular child in order to really know if that specific set of issues were something we could handle. Both are children had minor issues noted at referral...one son has had no issues at all and the other has some minor special needs that have nothing to do with his prenatal or family history and couldn't have been known at the time of referral.

    Take the time you need to go over all the conditions listed. Talk to a pediatrician if you want more information. And then all you can do is "go with your gut" so to speak. Don't talk yourself into something that makes you feel uneasy just b/c you think its "the right thing to do".

  6. THAT list drove me up a wall too! We finally had to look at it this way... This is our one shot to become parents. It's OK to be a bit choosy. On the other hand, you can't be totally closed to EVERYTHING. One good thing in your favor is that AIAA has a lot of "mild" special needs which aren't really special needs at all. Go with your gut and don't worry about it too much. The good news is that you get to see an incredibly long referral before you give the final yes to the kid. Hang in there.

  7. Oh man. The list. The. List. I hated that thing!!!

    We ended up putting "will consider" on a handful of things, and only checked "yes" to two things. We just felt that we weren't ready to dive into parenting special needs. And since our list didn't have any "shades of gray" so to speak, we took each item and asked ourselves if we could handle worst case scenario. The answer was no more often than not. (obviously) Parenting itself was a big enough challenge for us to overcome.
    (And we didn't/don't feel like we had the support network in place here.) Maybe post-move/second child, it will be a different story... but not when we were checking the list for our first/potentially only child. You're not alone... and whatever you check it has to be right for your family!

  8. I know exactly how you feel. That list is horrible! It was the hardest thing to do during our dossier/home study process. Be honest, & don't second guess yourself. Our SW told us that we have to be honest with ourselves for our baby & us & that it's OK.

  9. this was definitely hard for us, too, but our family doctor was really helpful. and in the end, your husband is right...being honest is best for both you and your child. take your time and don't feel badly...we went through 3 or 4 copies before we were done!

  10. I too amy finding this is hard for us too. There are so many things to think about & figure out what you can & cannot handle! We will be finalizing ours this weekend. I wish you the best with yours!

  11. Thanks so much to everyone for our support. It really helps to hear how you all have dealt (or are dealing) with this. xoxo

  12. I filled this out a month or two ago and felt the same. I ended up taking it to my Dr and going over it with her. It really helped as she explained which are fixable and what they would entail etc.

  13. Yep, I hear you. I wrote a post on this very thing a month or so ago. This part of the process is NOT easy and brings up things that most people never have to think about.

    Best wishes figuring it all out.

  14. Oh boy, I can't even imagine. I feel lucky that our agency did not make us do this. Now that we've been through the process and I look back it surprises me, but all it asked us was whether we would consider a special needs child or not. Nothing specific about types of issues. I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to think about these babies with these issues and to be rejecting them (in your mind) but of course you know like your hubby says and everyone else - being honest is the only way to go. Good luck.


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