Children's Hospital Colorado
Primary Care
Primary Care

The International Adoption Clinic

About our International Adoption Clinic

The International Adoption Clinic (IAC) at Children's Hospital Colorado began in 1999 and is a specialized outpatient referral clinic serving the Rocky Mountain Region for the evaluation and care of internationally adopted children. We specialize in pre-adoption medical consultation and evaluation and care of children after adoption. Our clinic is based on the principle of looking at your adopted child and family as a whole.

Our personalized, multi-disciplinary approach ensures that newly adopted children receive specialty medical consultation, nutrition counseling, psychological and neuropsychological consultation, occupational therapy and physical therapy evaluations. Team members include a general pediatrician, pediatric nurse practitioner, clinical neuropsychologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist. We serve children from birth to age 18. The IAC does not provide consultations for domestic adoptions.

Why choose the International Adoption Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado?

International adoption and orphanage life create unique challenges to children that can affect their health, growth, behavior and development. Our clinic team has professional expertise in global health issues, infectious diseases and the unique developmental and behavioral challenges faced by children who are adopted from abroad. The focus of our multi-disciplinary team is to give high-quality, comprehensive care to your child.

Our knowledge and skills help us to assess medical, nutritional, developmental and behavioral issues specific to international adoptees and to help you and your pediatrician provide the best care to your new child and to your family. Our team members have extensive personal experience with issues in international adoption; some have adopted children of their own from other countries and have worked around the world with orphaned and abandoned children.

Services we offer

  • Pre-adoption assessment of the medical records, photographs and video tapes of prospective adoptees (including consultation by email while abroad if concerns arise)
  • Comprehensive post-adoption evaluations addressing medical, nutritional, developmental and behavioral issues in the weeks following adoption
  • Follow-up consultation or evaluation around medical, developmental or behavioral concerns as needed or as requested by parents or healthcare providers

Pre-adoption assessments

The IAC provides pre-adoption assessments of the medical records of prospective adoptees, including medical information, photographs, videotapes and any other information provided by the adoption agency. Pre-adoption assessments do not require an appointment and are able to be completed with less than a 24 hour turnaround time upon request. A medical provider will review the files and then discuss the findings over the phone with the parents. We look specifically at the medical needs, growth and development of the child. We aim to make the prospective parents aware of any red flags or areas where we might want more information from the adoption agency. We strive to give the family a realistic picture of what needs the child would have if they decide to adopt.

After the pre-adoption review, we are also available to review any future information that comes between the pre-adoption review and the actual adoption (many agencies send periodic updates) as well as while the family is traveling abroad. This is all included in the initial cost.

Appointment information

We accept referrals from your pediatrician or primary care provider. We like to see children for a first assessment when they have been here for 4 to 6 weeks so that the child is able to adjust to his/her new surroundings. This makes it possible for our therapists to perform better developmental assessments. In special circumstances, the IAC may authorize earlier appointments if the condition of the child so requires. We can also see children who have been home for longer periods of time and have new developmental, behavioral or health concerns.

The IAC appointment is a consultative visit and should not take the place of a full physical exam with the primary care provider within the first two weeks of being home to establish care and address any urgent medical needs. We recommend that your primary care provider wait to give any immunizations or obtain bloodwork until after our visit. We generally do screening bloodwork at the end of the IAC visit (including vaccine titers) and will provide immunization recommendations after our visit and once any vaccine titers have been evaluated.

Before your visit

It is helpful if you check with your insurance to see if lab work is covered at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Please bring any medical or other pertinent records for your child to this visit. Your visit will last around 90 minutes, and we will look at your child and family as a whole. We believe that areas of development cannot be looked at separately. It is the coordination of all of our assessments that gives us a full picture of your child’s development.

Generally, all of the providers will meet together with the family to gather an initial history of the child’s previous living situation, family history, birth history, past medical and surgical histories and developmental history. Nutrition, sleeping habits, elimination and any other concerns will also be discussed. Each therapist (physical therapist, occupational therapist and neuropsychologist) will perform a developmental assessment followed by a full medical examination performed by the medical providers. At the end of the visit, the family will get feedback from all of the providers. We will also send an in-depth report to the family and the child's doctor with our recommendations.

The team members you will meet

Dr. Gretchen Domek, MPhil is a general pediatrician with international health experience and is the director of the clinic. She will review any medical records that the family has and discuss the child’s growth and overall health. She will also address any questions about nutrition, infectious illnesses, immunizations, or any other health concerns. She will perform a physical exam during the visit.

Karen Dodd, PNP-BC, MS is a pediatric nurse practitioner with many years of experience in behavioral and developmental pediatrics with a diverse population of children. As part of the medical team with Dr. Domek, she will look at medical records and perform a physical exam. She will also address any concerns regarding the child’s health and development.

Amy Connery, PsyD, ABPP-CN is a clinical neuropsychologist who will focus on cognitive development, social and emotional development (including child-parent bond), and language skills. She will use standardized testing to get a sense of where the child is right now. She will also make suggestions on the next steps for learning and activities for play.

Nancy Corson, MA, OTR is an occupational therapist who will check the child’s fine motor skills to assess how the child is using his or her hands in play and for other tasks. She will do a screening for feeding and oral motor skills and evaluate how well the child is able to use his or her senses.

Marybeth Aretz PT, DPT, PCS, c/NDT is a physical therapist who will spend time with the child looking at how he or she moves. She will check the child’s muscle strength, quality of movement, and level of development in gross motor skills. She will look at skills like rolling, crawling, sitting, walking, running and climbing.

Helpful resources

International Adoption Clinic forms

International Adoption Clinic information

Travel preparation

Other international adoption resources

  • Nutrition and feeding websites
  • Attachment and behavior recommended books
    • "The Connected Child" by Karyn Purvis, David Cross and Wendy Sunshine
    • "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft" by Mary Hopkins-Best
    • "Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children with Severe Behaviors" by Heather T. Forbes

Where to go for your appointment

The International Adoption Clinic is held in the Multidisciplinary Clinic on the second floor of Children's Colorado in Aurora, on the Anchutz Medical Campus. Our address is 13123 East 16th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045.