Semin Speech Lang 2005; 26(1): 1-9
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-864211
Copyright © 2005 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

International Adoption: A Health and Developmental Prospective

Patrick Mason1 , 2 , Christine Narad1
  • 1International Adoption Center, Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, Fairfax, Virginia
  • 2Pediatric Endocrinologist, Northern Virginia Endocrinologists, Fairfax, Virginia
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
24 February 2005 (online)


Adoptions from international countries have become an option for many US families, with over 150,000 children adopted in the past 14 years. Typically, internationally adopted children present with a host of medical and developmental concerns. Issues such as growth stunting, abnormal behaviors, and significant delays in motor, speech, and language development are likely directly related to the prenatal and early postnatal environment experienced prior to adoption. The new family and its health-care team must quickly work to identify and address these issues to aid the child's integration into his or her new family.

This article will examine potential issues seen in children who are being adopted, including the impact of early environment on subsequent development. We will summarize early and long-term medical issues and review the extent of developmental delays seen in children adopted internationally. Finally, we will discuss possible mechanisms leading to the observed delays, including the impact of stress on subsequent development. By understanding the extent of expected delays and the mechanisms likely causing the issues, the health-care team will be in a good position to quickly identify and develop intervention protocols that will foster the child's assimilation into his or her new family.


Patrick Mason, M.D. , Ph.D. , FAAP 

Director, International Adoption Center, Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children

8505 Arlington Blvd., Suite 100

Fairfax, VA 22031

Email: [email protected]