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In the excitement of planning an international adoption, many parents neglect their own health. Parents must prepare themselves for international travel well in advance of the trip. Parents with chronic medical conditions should consult their physicians about health precautions during travel. All parents should consult their physicians or travel medicine specialist about needed vaccines early in the adoption process. It is essential that prospective parents receive hepatitis B vaccinations early in the adoption process. Hepatitis A vaccine should also be given, as well as updates of polio, tetanus, measles, varicella, and other vaccines as needed.

Inexperienced travelers need to be educated about basic travel hygiene (food, water, sanitation) and safety. Waterless hand cleansers (gels) are useful items to bring. Many travel clinics dispense prophylactic antibiotics to treat traveler's diarrhea. In some areas, malaria medication is needed. Adequate supplies of all prescription medicines should be taken in carry-on luggage. Parents may wish to consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance if a prolonged trip is anticipated. (The child is not eligible for such coverage until the adoption and U.S. immigration procedures are finalized). Guidance on health issues for traveling adults in different regions is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other websites. Accidents and injuries are the most common cause of serious problems among travelers. Several books also provide useful travel advice. Parents should recognize and try to compensate for the enormous emotional and physical stresses they experience from both the travel and the adoption.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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