Evaluating Risk Factors in Domestic Infant Adoption

What are the common risk factors when adopting a baby in the US and how can adoptive parents evaluate these risks when considering an adoption match. We talk with Dr. Dana Johnson, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota where he co-founded the Adoption Medicine Program in 1986. Over the course of his career, he has reviewed the medical records of over 20,000 children and counseled potential adoptive parents on the likely medical needs of these adoptees. He is a dad by both birth and adoption.

Hit the Highlights
  1. Lack of prenatal care.
    • Why do expectant moms who are considering making an adoption plan often have limited prenatal care?
    • What is covered in prenatal care and how might a lack of prenatal care impact a baby?
  2. Prematurity
    • What causes a premature birth?
    • Poor prenatal care?
    • Are expectant moms who are considering making an adoption plan more likely to have a premature birth?
    • What are the risks with a premature birth based on the degree of prematurity?
  3. Prenatal exposure
    • Alcohol
      • What are some red flags that a mom might have abused alcohol during her pregnancy?
      • Does the degree if impact differ depending on when in the pregnancy alcohol was consumed?
      • What are the long- and short-term impacts of alcohol consumption on a child exposed prenatally?
      • Resources to help parent a child exposed to alcohol. Creating a Family has resources on the long- and short-term impacts of FASD and parenting tips and FASCETS (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Consultation, Education, and Training Services)
    • Opioids
      • List of opioid drugs in increasing degree of strength
        •  Codeine
        • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Hycodan)
        • Morphine (MS Contin, Kadian)
        • Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percoset)
        • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
        • Heroin
        • Methadone, Suboxone
        • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
      • Does the degree if impact differ depending on when in the pregnancy the opioid was used?
      • Does the degree of long-term impact differ depending on whether the baby was born dependent or with a diagnosis of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?
      • What are the long- and short-term impacts of opioid exposure on a child exposed prenatally?
      • Does the impact differ depending on what drug was involved or whether it was a legal or illegal drug
    • Methamphetamine
    • Cocaine
    • Marijuana
    • Hallucinogens, including Ecstasy
    • Creating a Family has extensive resources to help parent a child exposed to opioids prenatally.

4. Mental Health Issues

    • What is the genetic connection for the following mental health disorders. How heritable are these mental illnesses
      • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias.
      • Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders.
      • Personality disorders (antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, obsessive compulsive)
      • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
      • ADHD

5. Legal Risk Factors

    • Most often in domestic infant adoption-most often unknown or unidentified birth fathers
    • Controls by state law
    • Work with your agency or attorney to understand the risk

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Music credit: Michael Ashworth

Photo credit: Marcin Jozwiak from Pexels