Our program, based in our Department of General Pediatrics, offers a wide range of specialized services, including:
- Pre-adoption and post-adoption evaluations
- Ongoing primary care
- Multidisciplinary team evaluations of physical, developmental, behavioral and educational needs
- Assistance with school-related academic and behavioral issues
- Referrals to medical subspecialists when needed
Whether you live in Northeast Ohio or elsewhere, our team stands ready to help you with evaluations and consultations.
Ongoing Primary Care
Dr. Elaine Schulte is available to provide ongoing primary carefor your child, including:
- Well-child and urgent care
- Urgent calls to medical staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Most insurance companies cover post-adoption evaluation and primary care. Check with your insurer.
Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation
If needed, your child may be evaluated by a multidisciplinary adoption team led by Dr. Schulte. The team includes:
- Behavioral medicine expert
- Developmental pediatrician
- Educational consultant
- Physical and occupational therapists
- Speech pathologist
Our adoption team will provide ongoing evaluation of your child's development. We will be available as your child matures throughout school to ensure that any special learning needs are fully supported.
Referrals to Pediatric Medical Specialists
- Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s offers care in all pediatric medical subspecialties. Dr. Schulte is part of the Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic that supports children with these very common birth defects.
- When adopted patients have major medical needs, our team refers children for additional assessments and care by specialists in Pediatric Infectious Disease, Pediatric Endocrinology, Pediatric Cardiology and other fields.
We believe that a pre-adoption consultation is the best way to prepare parents for the unique challenges and joys of adoption. This is true for both domestic and international adoptions. In international adoptions, transitioning a child from orphanage or foster care in another country requires added sensitivity, insight and preparation.
Our Full Pre-Adoption Consultations include:
- Immediate review of your child's medical records, photos and videotapes
- Interpretation of medical terminology
- Assessing growth
- Outlining developmental and behavioral expectations
- A plan to address medical, developmental, feeding, sleeping and other issues beforehand, especially if travel is required
- Phone consultation and support during the adoption process, even during trips abroad
- Information about adoption resources
Pre-adoption consultations begin with an online request to Cleveland Clinic MyConsult. MyConsult allows you to contact Dr. Schulte from the comfort and privacy of your home, and streamlines the evaluation of your child's health records, photos and videotapes.
Other MyConsult Pre-Adoption Services
Besides comprehensive pre-adoption consultations, services available through Cleveland Clinic MyConsult include:
- General adoption phone inquiries
- Basic, one-time medical record reviews
Dr. Elaine Schulte, Director of the International Adoption Program, will examine and evaluate your child within seven to 10 days of your arrival home. She will conduct the screening recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and provide all needed immunizations.
Post-adoption services include:
- A thorough physical examination, and a history review (to the extent available)
- Review of any new medical information
- Review of immunization status
- Assessment of infectious disease risks
- Assessment of developmental status
- Diagnostic tests or referrals to specialists, if needed
Ed and Pam Godlewsky Seek a MyConsult Online Pre-Adoption Consultation While Considering the Medical Needs of a Child in China
In the ten years that they've been married, Ed and Pam Godlewsky have faced their share of obstacles. After trying for several years, they learned through their doctor that the probability of having a child naturally was quite low, while the cost of fertility treatments would be quite high. So they decided to look into adoption. After extensive research, they elected to pursue adopting a child from China and were placed on a waiting list for several years. Following two unsuccessful attempts to adopt a Chinese child, the Godlewskys learned about Mason, a Chinese boy who required corrective surgery following his birth. While determining if Mason was the right fit for their family, the Godlewskys reached out to Cleveland Clinic's MyConsult Pre-Adoption Consultation program to seek some expert advice.
Ed says that while he and Pam were open to adopting a child with medical needs, they wanted to be sure that the relationship would be mutually beneficial and that he and Pam could provide a good quality of life for Mason. "Because Mason is so far away and we were unable to meet him in-person prior to making our decision, we've had to rely on photos, videos and written reports to evaluate his condition," says Ed. "We wanted to be absolutely sure we were making the best, informed decision that we could, given the circumstances. So when our social worker recommended the MyConsult Online Pre-Adoption Consultation program, it seemed like a really great option to facilitate the process."
Cleveland Clinic's MyConsult® Online Pre-Adoption Consultations are conducted by Elaine Schulte, MD, MPH a board-certified Pediatrician and the Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Children's Adoption Program. Dr. Schulte has over 20 years of experience in adoption consultations and was one of the original physicians to offer this service anywhere in the country. A pre-adoption consultation is the best way to prepare parents for the unique challenges and joys of domestic or international adoption. Through MyConsult, parents can contact Dr. Schulte from the comfort and privacy of their home and streamline the evaluation of the child's health records, photos and video files to ensure they are as prepared as possible to welcome an adopted child into their lives.
"The biggest reason I started to do this work is that I wanted parents to be as fully informed as they could be going into adoption. I also learned through my own experience after adopting two children from China how helpful that insight could be," she says. "Often, medical advice is only a small part of what parents need. With international adoptions, parents also need anticipatory guidance about what to expect when adopting a child from a different country. These couples are travelling to another part of the world where most have never been before; they often don't speak the language, and don't have any extended support. It can be both a physically and emotionally exhausting experience and I want to help these parents with the support and guidance they need during a very distinctive and exciting time."
There are several options for a MyConsult Online Pre-Adoption Consultation, including a full consultation which entails an immediate consult, a comprehensive plan to address medical developmental, feeding, sleeping and other potential issues, and phone and email support during the adoption process, even during trips abroad. Parents can also select a one-time medical record review, which is what the Godlewskys decided to do.
So Ed gathered all of Mason's medical information and used the secure file upload feature on the MyConsult website to submit the documents to Cleveland Clinic. Within a few days, he and Pam heard back from Dr. Schulte, who contacted them via conference call. "The adoption agency encourages you to make a decision quickly because they want to match a prospective parent with a child as soon as possible. However, because Dr. Schulte was so responsive, we didn't feel pressured to make a hasty decision we weren't comfortable with," says Ed. "Dr. Schulte took the time to answer all of our questions, ask some of her own, and provide recommendations based on her evaluation. We won't be able to fully understand Mason's condition until we bring him home, but she was very direct and candid with her advice, based on what we know so far. That's absolutely what you need in this situation."
Dr. Schulte says being responsive and straightforward is essential to each of the pre-adoption consultations she provides. "I have always felt very sensitive to the needs of adoptive parents. Part of it may be from my own personal experience, but I think it's also due to my professional experience," she says. "I know that any potential adoptive parent is constantly sitting by their phone and email waiting for any information they can gain. They're so excited and so nervous so I try to respond as quickly as I can. I also want to be as candid as possible because I know that as a parent, you want to know everything you can in order to do what's best for the child. I feel it's my responsibility to give these parents as accurate a picture as possible about what they might expect now and in future so they can make informed decisions that are right for their unique circumstances."
After speaking with Dr. Schulte, Ed and Pam decided to move forward with adopting Mason. They're currently finalizing all of the paperwork and expect to receive their travel dates later this month. Ed says he truly appreciates their experience with Cleveland Clinic's MyConsult Online Pre-Adoption Consultation program. "We wanted to gather as much information as we could to ensure we're making a truly educated decision, but at the end of the day we just have to take a leap of faith," says Ed. " Dr. Schulte's consultation gave us peace of mind that we've done all we can to make the right choice for ourselves and for Mason. After all of our struggles, we're truly excited to bring him home and start our family."
Update: Ed and Pam traveled to China this May. Mason is now home with the couple and doing well.
How to Utilize Adoption Resources
No matter where you live, you can take advantage of the MyConsult Pre-Adoption Consultation (PAC) program if you have internet access. Just visit www.eclevelandclinic.org/adoption. The program’s services include:
- pre-and post-adoption evaluations
- ongoing primary care
- multi-disciplinary team evaluations of physical, developmental, behavioral and educational needs
- referrals to medical subspecialties, as needed
Consultations begin from the comfort and privacy of your home when you make an online request through Cleveland Clinic’s secure MyConsult site. After receiving all available information about a potential adoptive child, the MyConsult physician staff:
- reviews the child’s medical records, photos and videotapes
- interprets medical terminology
- assesses the child’s growth
- outlines developmental and behavioral expectations
- provides a pre-travel consultation to assist with medical, developmental, feeding, sleeping or other issues that may arise
- offers phone consultations and support during the adoptive parents’ travel abroad
- provides information about adoption resources
Pre-adoption services available through Cleveland Clinic MyConsult also include general international adoption phone inquiries, overseas urgent consults and basic, one-time medical record reviews.
Once a child is brought home from a foreign country, the PAC program’s services do not end. Within 10 days of the child’s arrival, a Cleveland Clinic pediatrician examines and evaluates the child, provides all needed immunizations and conducts screenings recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Post-adoption services include:
- thorough physical examinations and history reviews
- reviews of any new medical information
- evaluations of immunization status
- assessments of infectious disease risks
- assessments of developmental status
- diagnostic tests or referrals to specialists, if needed
Ongoing primary care is available and includes well-child and emergency care, as well as urgent calls to medical staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, children with special needs may be evaluated by the PAC’s multi-disciplinary team.
Led by a pediatrician, this team of healthcare professionals includes a speech pathologist, physical and occupational therapists, developmental pediatrician, behavioral medicine expert, neuropsychologist and educational consultant.