Among the children with special needs waiting to be adopted, children with Hepatitis B face many challenges. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne infection that can be spread to a child from his or her birthmother.
This disease can cause damage to the liver and can affect the body’s immune response. Although a serious infection, Hepatitis B is “vaccine-preventable” and treatable. Currently in the U.S. the two approved treatment options for children with chronic hepatitis B are: (1) Intron A (interferon alpha) and (2) Epivir-HBV (lamivudine).
Understandably, prospective adoptive parents often have reservations about adopting a child who is infected with Hepatitis B and may have questions about how this infection will affect their lives as well as the life of their child. Symptoms for chronic Hepatitis B which include jaundice, fever, liver enlargement, and abdominal pain but the good news with this infection is that due to developing immune systems, many babies and children do not ever experience these symptoms.
The first step an adoptive parent can take is to make sure that everyone in the family is already vaccinated for the virus and screened. An adopted child who is infected should be regularly seen by a doctor and treatment options should be thoroughly explained. Hepatitis B is common in areas of certain countries but it is treatable. Adoptive parents should always contact a family physician with any concerns or medical questions—follow-up is key.
The Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin also provides informational and support services for parents who adopt children with Hepatitis B. We are honored to work with parents who adoptchildren with special needs and recognize that, although it is a big undertaking, these children are receiving the love and care they deserve.
What You Need to Know about Hepatitis B
Spence-Chapin Modern Family Center
Spence-Chapin works to find families for children from a variety of diverse and vulnerable populations. These populations include children with special needs.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a child has 3 copies of chromosome 21, instead of 2. Worldwide, it is estimated that somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 babies are born each year with Down syndrome. There are roughly 250,000 families currently in the U.S. affected by Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome face potential physical and intellectual delays and may be more susceptible to certain medical conditions including heart defects and difficulty in hearing.
Facts and figures (and stigmas) aside, children born with Down syndrome are lovable individuals who can make wonderful additions to an adoptive family! Medical and psychological care for these children is obviously paramount because this is a disorder that is accompanied by developmental challenges. What is equally important is that these children receive love and compassion from their families. Research suggests having a child with Down syndrome in the family can actually have positive effects on a family unit. Another study revealed that divorce rates in families of a child with Down syndrome are actually lower, comparatively.
For those parents who can open their hearts and homes to children with Down syndrome (or another special need), we offer support and resources Our Modern Family Center provides programs and services for all adoptive families to help navigate this lifetime process.
If you’re reading this, it’s most likely because your mom or dad sent it your way. But don’t stop reading yet. First think of what you’re most excited about as you get ready for college.
Got it? Well, as exciting as going off to college can be, it can also be a really nerve-wracking experience. Forget about everything you need to pack; how are you going to manage making friends, getting good grades, and living away from home for the first time?
You may be wondering what adoption has to do with all of this. Maybe you didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about your adoption when you were younger, but as you’ve grown older, you’ve dealt with issues other teens haven’t, and you may be wondering if it has to do with you being adopted. You’re not alone! Graduating from high school and transitioning to college is a major life event, and you may find yourself thinking about your identity, independence, fitting in, and the idea of family in new ways.
College is your time to figure out who you are! You’ll want to find ways to get involved, build community and meet other adoptees or students that share your birth culture or nationality. You may be nervous about fitting in with those groups, having to explain your family to a new set of people, or simply being homesick.
Summer’s here… but Kindergarten’s near!
Going off to kindergarten and starting a new school can be stressful for any child, but for your adopted child, there may be even more resistance and anxiety surrounding new experiences, change, and adjustment. While the change may be many months away, you should start talking about it now as it can take kids a long time to get excited about such a big transition!
According to studies cited in Raising Adopted Children [Quill, 2002], the pressures of transitioning to a new school might emphasize your child’s core adoption issues such as feelings of rejection and loss. As a result, he or she may feel some anger or mistrust towards you or the other important people in their lives, as well as question the permanency of your family. Sometimes adopted children are able to talk about these fears, but more often than not, they are unable to articulate what is really bothering them.
Although it is common for adoption issues to arise during school transitions, not all adopted kids experience anxiety or challenges in the same way. By being self-aware, sensitive, and helping to build confidence, you can ensure that your child has the solid foundation he or she needs to have a positive school experience! To help support your child, you can:
- Talk to him or her about expectations and reaffirm the concept of your family’s permanency despite new changes that may be occurring.
- Emphasize what is going to remain the same and help to establish consistent routines like taking the bus each day, having an afternoon snack, or doing homework together after dinner.
- Talk to your child about handling unwelcome questions about adoption or being different from their peers. If you are unsure how to help your child respond, join us for our How to Talk to Young Children about Adoption workshop. (LINK)
- Have Spence-Chapin connect with your child’s school to ensure their teaching environment accepts and values the way all families are created, especially those formed through adoption. Schools should be sensitive to all cultures and languages in the classroom, especially for children adopted internationally and transracially. If your child’s school could benefit from increased adoption sensitivity, we are happy assist! Our “Adoption in Schools” workshop is available to your school at no cost.
For more insight about this topic, tune in for our FREE upcoming webinar, “Off to Kindergarten” on Tuesday, August 12th, from 6:30p.m. – 7:30p.m.