Finding the perfect pediatrician doesn't have to be complicated. After making it through your homestudy and maneuvering through the maze of adoption paperwork, here's an opportunity for you to be in the driver's seat. You get to ask the questions!
Assess your needs and wants - Before interviewing a doctor, list the qualities you're looking for in a pediatrician including any cultural or gender preferences that may be important to you. Consider things such as location of the doctor's office, preferred hospital affiliation or desire for specific subspecialty. Rank your list by importance.
Getting started - Network with other parents to develop a list of referrals. Don't limit your networking to any one group (family, co-workers, neighbors, adoptive families). Be prepared to shop around until you find the best physician for your family. Pick from these interview questions and add any of your own:
Are you amenable to a get acquainted interview? Some physicians charge a fee for these interviews. Typically this interview takes from 15-30 minutes.
Where did you do your pediatric training? A diploma from a prestigious medical school doesn't guarantee a great doctor but you should steer clear of anyone not trained at an accredited, reputable medical institution.
Are you board-certified through the American Board of Pediatrics? Board certification increases the likelihood that the physician has a high level of professional expertise. To check out a physician's record, contact your state medical licensing board. They can tell you if any action has been taken against the doctor's license. They can also verify education and certification.
Do you have a subspecialty? You may wish to consider a pediatrician with a subspecialty in infectious diseases because of the incidence of these types of diseases in internationally adopted children.
Which hospitals give you admitting privileges? Make sure the doctor practices at a hospital you want to use.
How long have you been in practice? Don't overlook a doctor who is a recent medical school graduate who may have a better grasp of current treatment options.
How much experience do you have with internationally adopted children? If the doctor has experience with adoptees or immigrants, ask which countries and if there are specific health concerns the doctor has noted in these children.
Will you review the referral health report? Ask if the doctor will review any health information received with the referral and if there will be a charge for this.
What tests do you recommend when your first see the child? How soon will the doctor want to administer these tests? Are they covered by insurance?
How far in advance does the doctor normally book routine appointments? Are same day appointments available when needed? Be sure you will have access to a medical professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If I have a minor question, when is the best time to call? Is there a nurse practitioner or physician assistant to handle such calls? How are contagious conditions handled? Is there a separate area of the office for children with contagious diseases to wait?
Trust your instincts - How was your call handled? Was the receptionist knowledgeable and friendly? How pleasant are the waiting and exam rooms? Can you envision spending a fair amount of time with your child in this doctor's office in the event you ever have to wait?
Remember, there are no right or wrong decisions here. Your goal is to select the best pediatrician to fit your family's needs. One family may prefer someone who tells them exactly what to do. Others may prefer to be part of the team and a doctor who seeks their opinion.
The final question I asked the pediatricians we interviewed was, "Do you have any advice to give us as we become first-time parents?" The answer I cherished most was "Trust your own instincts - you're going to do just fine!"
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