CHOP’s International Adoption Health Program Gives Families a Healthy Start

Published on in CHOP in the Media

International AdoptionThe International Adoption Health Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) helps families going through the adoption process understand the medical, emotional, and developmental histories and needs of their children. The program offers pre-adoption and post-adoption support services.

One of our families recently spoke with Fox 29 about their experience. The Shaeffer family has 11 biological children, but felt a need to adopt another child. They wanted to adopt a young girl from Ethiopia named Gracelyn, but knew she had medical needs.

“Right from the beginning of the adoption process, we were there”, explains Susan Friedman, MD, Director of the International Adoption Health Program. “Many families may not realize the health and developmental status of a child they want to adopt. We go through the medical records, explain what it all means, and what families should expect. We also identify critical information that is missing from the records and provide a list of the important questions to ask regarding the child’s health and development. We continue to address any updates with new information, help prepare families for the trip to bring their child home, and provide ongoing support during that trip. That’s what we did for the Shaeffers — we explained Gracelyn’s medical history, identified medical issues, and connected the family with experts here at CHOP who could help her daughter as soon as she arrived in the United States. We have been honored to support Gracelyn and her family after the adoption as well!”

The International Adoption Health Program has a unique benefit, in that it can put families in touch with doctors from every specialty across CHOP’s diverse healthcare network. Doctors and therapists from a number of backgrounds came together to offer Gracelyn the best possible care.

The Shaeffers then decided to adopt another child from Ethiopia — 11-year-old Biniyam. Once again, the International Adoption Program at CHOP was there to help Biniyam along his path to a healthier life.

“When he first arrived, he was smaller than an 8-year-old boy,” says Dr. Friedman. “Now, just a year later, he’s grown into a healthy and happy young man.”

But the Shaeffers say they’re not done! They’re now considering adopting a 14th child.

Watch their story here

Contributor Name

Camillia Travia