Winthrop’s International Adoption Program:
Connecting Loving Hearts and Healthy Children around the Globe

Vol. 19, No. 1
Winter/Spring 2009

  • The Most Precious Gift of All

  • Winthrop Names John F. Collins President and CEO

  • Relief for Parkinson’s & Other Movement Disorders

  • Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Center: Helping Patients Win in the Battle to Lose

  • Winthrop Earns Prestigious Research Accreditation

  • Clinical Trials

  • Advanced Procedure & World-Class Care Provide Back Pain Relief to Patients

  • Yuletide Ball Raises Close to $90,000 in Support of Pediatric Services

  • Winthrop’s International Adoption Program: Connecting Loving Hearts and Healthy Children around the Globe

  • NY Islanders Score Big with Young Patients at Winthrop

  • The Guardian Society – Watching Over Your Future and Winthrop’s

  • Senator Fuschillo “Extends the Holidays” With Loads of Toys for Young Patients at Winthrop

  • Mineola Lions Club Shows Continued Support for Diabetes Education Center

  • Long Island Quilters Society Works of Art on Display at Cancer Center for Kids

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  • When Thomas and Dymphna LiVecchi received the long awaited phone call from their adoption agency telling them it was time to pack their bags, the West Islip couple had just ten days before leaving for China to meet their 22-month old daughter Samantha for the first time.

    Having just over a week to prepare – from getting all of the required immunizations to becoming educated on medical issues that could arise out of the country and learning about basic childcare needs – is a great task for any new parent. But thanks to the comprehensive services that are available through Winthrop-University Hospital’s International Adoption Program, Mr. and Mrs. LiVecchi were well equipped and ready to welcome their daughter.

    “Winthrop’s International Adoption Program helped us throughout the entire adoption process,” said Mrs. LiVecchi. “Beginning with Dr. Lee’s extensive evaluation of the adoption referral – which helped us tremendously in our decision – to the travel preparation and post-adoption services – the program was an amazing resource.”

    Under the dynamic leadership of Leonard R. Krilov, MD, Chief of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division and International Adoption Program at Winthrop, and Associate Chairman of the Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics, Winthrop’s International Adoption Program utilizes the caring and expertise of infectious disease specialist Paul J. Lee, MD, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Diana Kong to deliver matchless compassion and world-class care to families throughout the entire adoption journey.

    “The decision to adopt a child is a major life event for the family and the child. Although our program was started in an attempt to provide medical evaluation of a child adopted from abroad and especially to address issues of infections that children may have been exposed to in a foreign country, we realize that there are many other aspects in bringing home a new child,” said Dr. Krilov. “Our program strives to provide a complete approach in our evaluations including assessment of nutrition development and other concerns the families may have. We also work with the families to establish a medical home for their child either through their continued primary pediatric care in our office and the Division of General Pediatrics at Winthrop or by helping the transition to a primary care practice in the community.”

    Adopting a child from a foreign country can often mean unique physical, emotional and developmental needs. Winthrop’s International Adoption Program has been an outstanding resource for nearly 1,200 families since the program’s inception in the mid 1990’s.

    Working with adoption agencies around the region, the program works with families who are adopting children around the globe in countries including Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Poland, and Eastern European nations. In addition, the Program is involved in an increasing number of adoptions of children from Ethiopia and special needs children from China.

    10-1 Once an adoption agency connects a child with a loving home, Winthrop’s International Adoption team works closely with the parents to evaluate all of the needs specific to that child. The program’s pre-adoption services consist of comprehensive physical and developmental assessments which may include an examination of photographs and videotapes of the child to evaluate physical or developmental disabilities; infection risk assessments; and immunization and medical record interpretation.

    “As part of the adoption process, parents are often given medical and developmental paperwork about the prospective child to help them decide whether to proceed. Unfortunately, this information is usually intimidating and unintelligible for parents because it uses medical jargon and is written from a different cultural perspective,” said Dr. Lee. “The pre-adoption screen is one of the most important services that we provide because I am able to utilize my experience to be an ‘interpreter’ and address parents’ concerns and questions in straightforward language. Parents receive the information and discussion they need which enables them to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.”

    Winthrop’s International Adoption Program team also works with parents to prepare them for travel to the child’s country of origin. Among the many valuable services available to parents is access to Winthrop experts 24 hours a day, seven days a week – even while they are overseas. Mr. and Mrs. LiVecchi understand the value of this great service. After experiencing complications with feeding their daughter while in China, the couple was grateful to be able to communicate with the staff via email and seek their professional guidance.

    “It was a great resource to have access to expert advice when we needed it most,” said Mrs. LiVecchi. “It was extremely helpful and made us feel so much better.”

    Lisa Hahn of Forest Hills, NY, also appreciates the value of a dedicated team of medical experts who are committed to the well-being of adoptive children and their new families. She and her husband Anthony Whitaker have utilized Winthrop’s International Adoption Program on four separate occasions to guide them in the adoption of their four beautiful daughters – seven-year-old Marley and five-year-old Shayla from China; and three-year-olds Keira and Jackie from Guatemala.

    “Winthrop’s International Adoption Program caters to the unique healthcare needs of children from various regions around the world,” said Ms. Hahn, an advocate for International Adoption Programs like Winthrop’s and an ardent supporter of organizations that provide vital support services and aid to children and adoptive parents.

    “Any parent who is exploring international adoption should consult with an infectious disease expert like Dr. Paul Lee who truly understands the different environments and risks that children may have been exposed to and will look for things that another pediatrician may not.”


    Upon an adoptive family’s return from overseas, a team of pediatric specialists at Winthrop will provide a comprehensive medical evaluation of the child – from a complete physical examination and developmental assessment to vaccinations and laboratory testing. This is usually completed within 48 hours of the child’s arrival in the United States.

    Pediatric specialists available through the program include infectious disease physicians, pediatric cardiologists, behavioral specialists and primary care physicians. Families also have the advantage of a multidisciplinary practice based in an academic hospital setting, and access to world-class primary care services for children – which families like the Whitakers continue to utilize.

    “We won’t go any where else – these doctors are a notch above the rest,” said Ms. Hahn. An added benefit of the program is close relationships that the staff develops with each family as they work side-by-side with them throughout the adoption process, every step of the way.

    “These children are an amazing gift to their families. And from the first referral to the follow up visits, the staff make each child’s transition into their forever family much easier for both the parents and the child,” said Ms. Hahn.

    As for any future plans to utilize Winthrop’s International Adoption Program to welcome a fifth child into the family, Ms. Hahn remarks, “Today, I’m done – but tomorrow, you never know!”

    For more information on Winthrop’s International Adoption Program, please call (516) 663-9414.

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