In 1928, Congress designated the first Monday of every October as Child Health Day and required that the President issue a proclamation in observance of the day each year moving forward. In 2016, President Obama’s proclamation read that, “On Child Health Day, we renew our strong commitment to protecting and empowering our children by giving them the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to grow into healthy and productive adults.”
Child Health Day, then, is one that very closely aligns with the goals of both birth parents and adoptive parents in choosing adoption. If this is a decision you are currently considering, you’re doing so because you want to give a child the best life possible. If it’s a choice you’ve already made, then you’re currently working on doing everything you can to keep that child happy and healthy.
This can mean different things on different sides of the adoption equation. Whether you’re a birth mom or an adoptive parent, below we’ve listed multiple ways you can work to keep your kids healthy — on Child Health Day as well as every other day of the year.
Having a Healthy Pregnancy as a Birth Mother
If you are pregnant, the best thing you can do for your child — regardless of whether you ultimately choose to parent or place him or her for adoption — is to lead a lifestyle that promotes your baby’s health and development. By following these tips, you can give your baby everything he or she needs to be healthy during your pregnancy:
Choose a trusted doctor.
Find a doctor you are comfortable with and who respects your decision to pursue adoption. By developing a trusting relationship with your primary practitioner, he or she will be able to best help you throughout your pregnancy.
Give up drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
If these are habits you had prior to becoming pregnant, it’s important that those subside during your pregnancy. Alcohol, drugs and tobacco can all be very harmful for your baby.
Follow a healthy diet.
It’s important that you consume essential nutrients like iron, folate and protein, in addition to staying hydrated and avoiding raw foods and excessive amounts of caffeine. Prenatal vitamins are very important as well.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that pregnant women should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Taking care of your body will only help when it comes time to give birth, too!
Avoid exposure to certain chores.
The toxins in household objects like cleaners or kitty litter can be extremely harmful for your baby. It’s also important to avoid tasks that may involve heavy lifting, climbing ladders, or standing for long periods of time, especially if you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Manage your stress.
An unplanned pregnancy can be a huge stressor for any woman, particularly if you aren’t sure you’re ready to become a parent. Please know that if you are considering adoption, there are free counseling services available to you 24/7.
Keeping Adopted Kids Healthy as an Adoptive Parent
If you are going through the process of adopting a child, it’s likely that you’re doing all that you can to prepare for your baby. It might seem like you can’t focus on his or her health before you bring them to your home, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Follow the tips below to learn how to begin focusing on your child’s health before you’ve even finished the adoption process:
Even before you meet your baby, it can be helpful to have a doctor picked out for him or her. While this will depend heavily on your own adoption situation, it’s possible that you may be adopting a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. If this is the case, you’ll want a pediatrician who is familiar with similar situations — and who will not be judgmental in determining the best health plan.
Schedule a checkup a few weeks after your child comes home with you.
Whether your child was adopted internationally or domestically, it can helpful to schedule a doctor’s visit. For a child adopted domestically, this will most likely just involve an introductory visit to the pediatrician you selected prior to placement, as the hospital where your child was born should’ve done all important screenings. If you adopted a child internationally, it’s important to not rely solely on the child’s medical history from his or her native country.
Keep your own health in check.
While waiting to bring your adopted child home, it can be invaluable to get in shape yourself. Taking care of a baby can be both emotionally and physically taxing! It can be helpful to begin work immediately on finding ways to eliminate stress. Whether that’s taking up yoga or scheduling meditation or quiet time, it’s important to be mentally ready for a new family member as well.
Set good habits with eating and exercise.
Healthy habits start early! Make sure you emphasize a healthy diet as well as regular exercise with your children from a young age. They’ll be much more likely to prioritize this lifestyle on their own later!
To see how others are celebrating Child Health Day and to learn more about healthy habits for your child, follow #ChildHealthDay on social media. To learn more about adoption, please don’t hesitate to contact us.