Learn all about international adoption on Sept. 22 with Children’s of Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's of Alabama, international adoption
The UAB International Adoption Clinic at Children’s of Alabama (IAC) helps families during and after their adoption process with medical, developmental and emotional/attachment education and support. While their primary focus is on international adoption, the IAC serves the domestic adoption population, as well. Photo via No Hands But Ours

If you’re interested in international adoption, but you are unsure about where to begin, Children’s of Alabama wants you to know that you and your family are never alone. Here’s how the UAB International Adoption Clinic at Children’s of Alabama guides you through the (sometimes complicated) process.

belcher Learn all about international adoption on Sept. 22 with Children's of Alabama
Karen Belcher is an IAC team member who knows just how real the stress can be for adoptive families. She also knows all about the joy. From left, Julia and Karen Belcher, RN,CPN. Photo via Children’s of Alabama
Common Threads

According to Karen Belcher, IAC program coordinator/nurse clinician, everyone who works at the International Adoption Clinic has a love for children, especially those children without parents or a home. Most of the staff have worked in orphanages, adoption agencies and participated in international missions. In fact, the majority have formed their own families through adoption.

Long story short: they know what you’re about to face, what you’re going through now and what you can expect later on down the road. The IAC is here to keep your family healthy and informed, no matter what you, your child or your family is experiencing.

Children's of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama
The UAB International Adoption Clinic at Children’s of Alabama Team, from left to right: family therapist Heather Schuck, LGSW, Carin Kiser, MD, Jennifer Chambers, MD, MPH & TM. Karen Belcher, RN and clinical program coordinator and Amy Elmore, occupational and developmental therapist. Photo via Children’s of Alabama
Your Family’s Journey

“Each process is a little different, depending on what country you’re adopting from,” Belcher said. “We can help you understand the dynamics of that child before you travel overseas.”

After you choose an international adoption agency, then comes the legwork: fingerprinting, background checks, paperwork, home visits.

These are the types of things an adoption agency will coordinate. For the IAC, initially, its role is more of an informational one, focusing on the child’s health and development, as well as educating the prospective parents.

When it comes to the opportunity to adopt, families are under a time constraint to make a decision. They may have only a few documents and a photo to consider, or hopefully a video, but that’s not guaranteed. At this point in the adoption process, the IAC staff can review the child’s file and discuss that child’s potential needs with the family.

“Our doctors are very, very experienced in international medicine,” Belcher said.

“Things are very different when you’re looking at (just) a photo from a child in another country. They are looking at things like malnutrition, physical development and many other specific, health-related things that a would-be parent would not catch.

“Of course, when a family sees a photo of a child in need, they often fall in love right away. Our job is to help them make an informed decision.”

Grow, Develop, Learn, Love

From assessing a child’s health background before adoption to helping them adjust to a new life and family, there are a lot of changes that children experience through adoption. That goes for the adoptive family, too.

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's, adoption


The IAC is located in the Children’s South Pediatric Outpatient Center at 1940 Elmer J. Bissell Road Birmingham, AL 35243.

You may reach them by phone at 205.638.6964 or online at www.childrensal.org/international-adoption-clinic.

Many Services, Many Needs

The IAC provides comprehensive interdisciplinary services throughout the child’s life. That means their needs are met, whether they are medical, developmental or emotional, from the time they take their first steps until they reach adulthood. Here are some of the services offered:

· pediatric international medicine

· pediatric nursing

· developmental therapy

· occupational therapy

· family\child therapy

The IAC also collaborates with multiple subspecialists in the pre- and post-adoption process to provide the most comprehensive care available to families.

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's, international, adoption
Adoption means big change for everyone involved, with lots more love to go around, too. Photo via adoption.com
International Adoption Boot Camp

You can start the adoption process anytime, but if you’re looking for a date to save, mark your calendar for September 22. That’s the day UAB’s International Adoption Clinic at Children’s of Alabama will be hosting an Adoption Boot Camp seminar.

Birmingham, Alabama, Children's of Alabama
Heather Schuck is a licensed, board-certified graduate social worker in the state of Alabama and a big part of the IAC team. Here she is with her husband Ryan, along with Junica, her daughter adopted from Hungary and Elias, her biological son. Photo via Children’s of Alabama
Boot Camp: Who, What, When, Where

· All families interested in domestic and international child adoption are welcome.

· The seminar will focus on the medical, developmental, attachment and identity issues that are commonly seen with adopted children.

· The seminar will be held at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church from 8:30 a.m. till 5 p.m.

· The cost per seminar is $150 and includes up to four attendee registrations.

iac seminar 9 22 Learn all about international adoption on Sept. 22 with Children's of Alabama

To register for the event, call (205) 638-6964 or email adoption@peds.uab.edu.

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