Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Fitting" Somewhere on the Forms

Dear Pediatric Doctors Everywhere:

I know they're just forms, but can you please consider the circumstances of your patients who are adopted children, and revise the wording of your forms so that our children "fit" on them? And use adoption-positive language? Here are some examples of Matthew's not fitting on your forms--it got my Irish up, let me tell ya.

--Are you the natural parents of this child? Well, no, because in the adoption community, we do not use the word "natural" to describe what is really meant: birth parents. Please use the term "birth parents." I may not be Matthew's birth parent, but mothering him feels, to me, as real and as "natural" as ever.

--Does anyone in patient's family have a history of any of these eye conditions (and then several conditions are listed, with only "yes" or "no" as the options). Well, doc, think I'll just have to create my own "category" here. So I added the word "unknown" and drew a box in front of it and checked my own self-drawn box. I did this for every condition you listed.

--Are there any hereditary medical problems in patient's family? If you mean "birth family," I don't know the answer to that, doc. I barely know anything about his birth parents. I wish I did.

--Who in the family wears glasses or contacts? I do, so I checked "myopic"...but this is not really applicable because Matthew is adopted. Shouldn't they have a box for "unknown; child is adopted"?

And then the more painful questions emerged that hit even closer...such as "did patient receive oxygen therapy at birth?" and "did patient have jaundice?"...with only "yes" and "no" as options. (I don't know, and it makes me sad to know that I don't know.)

Doctors, please add a checkbox called "unknown" so that my son "fits" somewhere on your forms--and I can stop editing them. I edit enough stuff all day long.

At Thursday's appointment, I will have not only my forms but also a letter to the doctor in hand, and I will also be giving verbal feedback to a front-desk receptionist who will probably think I've lost a few screws for complaining about the wording of some forms, but I don't care. It sounds petty, but trust me people, it's not.

(This Public Service Announcement brought to you by Kathleen Halverson, proud Mother of Matthew and advocate of adoptive families everywhere!)

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