NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lax Inspection Of Adoptees From Overseas

February 14, 2000

Thousands of children from foreign countries enter the U.S. every year for adoptions. They are supposed to be medically screened. But some pediatricians are warning that the procedures leave much to be desired. As a result some native-born Americans are coming down with infections and other health complications imported from abroad.

  • In the past decade, 105,128 adoptive children have entered the U.S. -- most from China and Russia.
  • American doctors are often unfamiliar with some of the medical conditions which afflict the children -- having never observed similar cases in the U.S.
  • Chinese children from orphanages sometimes enter with roundworm or are afflicted with rickets, a vitamin D deficiency -- while Russian children have been found exposed to tuberculosis.
  • Experts warn that some children who have been in the U.S. for three or four years have never been checked for hepatitis B or hepatitis C -- and that the children can be "loaded with" parasites.

Sometimes the problems are more than just physical. Children raised in Chinese or Russian orphanages may exhibit neurological damage -- perhaps the result of lack of stimulation and parental bonding during infancy.

One notable exception is adoptees from Korea. Those children tend to be generally as healthy as U.S.-born children due to the fact that they were raised in foster homes.

Source: Joan Oleck, "The Kids Are Not All Right," Business Week, February 14, 2000.


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