Providing a Strong Start for New Families

Each year, thousands of children are adopted from overseas. In order to meet the special needs of adoptive families, our health care providers established the University of Chicago Medicine Adoption Center at Comer Children’s Hospital. This unique resource has been designed to provide adoptive families with a wide range of services, including:

  • Pre-adoption assessments
  • Pre-adoption travel clinic visits
  • Post-adoption parent support and resource referral
  • Referrals to specialized care

Our board-certified family nurse practitioner and licensed clinical social worker specialize in providing medical, behavioral and developmental care to adopted children from countries around the world. The Adoption Center team works closely with health professionals in other specialties to offer a full range of pediatric services, including infectious disease consultations and other resources that will help ease the transition to a new home.

Why Choose Us?

Our Adoption Center is a special, focused program that addresses the unique medical, developmental and behavioral issues that may affect a child adopted from a foreign country.

Our nurse practitioner and clinical staff are highly trained and knowledgeable in the field of international adoption. They have an in-depth understanding of the different health and developmental needs of children in many countries.

Comer Children's Hospital is staffed by many of the nation's leading experts in pediatric medicine and infectious diseases. If appropriate, our international adoption specialists can consult with other pediatric specialists to assist with your child's care.

Once the decision has been made to proceed with an international adoption, our clinical team will partner with you and your pediatrician to make sure all of your child's medical and behavioral health needs are addressed.

Pre-Adoption Assessment

During the pre-adoption assessment, a nurse practitioner will evaluate your child's medical information and explain it in terms that you can understand. As your partners, our team will listen to your concerns and discuss medical issues that your child might encounter when traveling from a foreign country.

Our nurse practitioners will also provide all family members with appropriate pre-travel counseling, immunizations and preventive treatment for the designated region of travel. If needed, our specialists will offer e-mail consultations from overseas to provide ongoing support and information during the adoption process. In addition, they can give you the tools needed to make your journey home as comfortable as possible.

Post-Adoption Medical Evaluations

Since the first medical check-up will need to take place soon after arriving home, you can set up an appointment before you go overseas to get your new child. The first appointment will provide a baseline for growth, behavior and development so that your child’s needs are properly assessed.

During the first check-up, medical records are reviewed and diagnoses are confirmed. Infectious disease tests are performed to check for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, HIV, tuberculosis, intestinal parasites and other medical conditions, as needed. Our team will then partner with your pediatrician to identify any complex ongoing diseases and/or behavioral or developmental problems. Together, we will create a plan to provide direction with therapies and medical assistance to get your child off to a solid start.

Behavioral & Developmental Support

Evaluating a newly adopted child requires extensive knowledge of the impact of any early life trauma, abuse and neglect on attachment, behavior, development and learning. Some children may struggle with behavioral and developmental problems not commonly seen in the United States. Our clinical staff has extensive experience working with children who have experienced early life complex trauma and are prepared to provide support, education, and resource referral to address adjustment challenges.

Linda Walsh, NP
Pediatric Infectious Disease Clinic Nurse Practitioner
Clinical Director, University of Chicago Medicine Adoption Center
Director of Clinical Operations & Outreach, Pediatric & Adolescent HIV Team

Jennifer L. Burns, CPNP
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Infectious Disease Clinic
Clinical Director, Pediatric and Family Travel Clinic