Friday, March 1, 2013

$$ Adoption and Health Issues ... I'm seeing dollar signs $$

We are no newcomers to adoption, nor the post-adoption expenses that seem to add up faster than agency fees. However, I think it is like labor - once you are past the worst, you forget about it.  Forget about the sheer, vast number of appointments and the financial output.

Adopting children internationally (and I suppose even domestically) comes with its fair share of medical issues. Your child has been living in sub-optimal conditions (there is certainly a range of "sub-optimal," but, in any event, it's not ideal).  Further, any time you add a child to your family, you have all those "first" and baseline appointments - pediatrician check up, first dental visit, labs, x-rays, maybe a  few specialists to take care of temporary problems (like intestinal parasites) or more long-term problems (e.g. a chronic condition). 

Plan to take some time off to deal with all of this! The appointments seem never-ending.

Additionally, plan to set aside some money above and beyond what you normally do for your family's health care expenses. Even with a very good insurance plan, co-pays of $20 here and there add up very quickly.  And many of these tests are not "typical" for the average American, so, as a result, may not be fully covered. It is worthwhile too know your insurance coverage backwards-and-front to avoid surprises. (And to fight for your rights when something should be covered in full).

I currently work for a county government. As a government employee, we are fortunate to have pretty great health care coverage. Yet, I know we have spent at least $300+ just in co-pays and such for Jhon in the last 3 months. And, this is the tip of the iceberg. 

Yesterday was our family trip to the dentist. Yes, six back-to-back appointments. What fun. This was Jhon's first visit and the other kids were due for regular cleanings. Jhon has some very extensive damage to those poor baby teeth. He starts with a pulpotomy next week, which is a bit like a baby root canal. He has three other follow up appointments to take care of other cavities, including two that were done in Colombia, but not properly and there is more decay to address. Since our dental insurance only covers these types of repairs at 50%, we expect our share of the expenses to exceed $800. 

Colombia is a land of sweet. Many, many items include sugar (and lots of it), including formula and baby cereals. Juice is very, very common (and amazing!). I suspect (although do not know) that this led to Jhon's dental trouble. At minimum, it likely did not help.  However, Hana had many dental problems too (including a pulpotomy and an extraction), and Ethiopia does not use much sugar. There, the issue seemed to be a complete lack of dental hygiene and care. Yet, Selam came home - at age 12 - with absolutely perfect teeth. Go figure. 

In addition to Jhon's not-so-fun upcoming dental visits, we decided we needed to go ahead with the surgery to fix his perforated ear drums (yes, both).  He has been pretty good lately, but just 2 weeks ago, he was experiencing heavy drainage, including blood, from his ears. Very disturbing to his teacher who didn't realize he had this problem... We decided we could not wait an additional 2 months for a second opinion and just had to get him some relief.

It's becoming quite clear that my sweet boy is simply used to living in chronic pain. :( And as much as I want to whine about the bills, I can say, without a doubt, that I would pay it all ten times over to get him feeling better.  

I admit - I'm a tad nervous. If he's this rambunctious with pain, what will he be like when he's feeling good all the time?!  ;) 

What about you adoptive parents? Any other major health issues you didn't expect? 
Did you budget extra money for medical expense at homecoming? 

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