Why is background information important?
In any type of adoption (agency or independent, domestic or intercountry), involving children of any age, it is important to obtain as much thorough and accurate medical, genetic, and social history information as you can about your prospective child. While adoption, like any form of parenting, involves a certain level of risk, background information is useful for the following reasons:
Where would I find background information about waiting children?
Contact your local agencies and ask about the types of children their agency usually places with adoptive families, the ages of children who generally are available for adoption, and the general backgrounds of the children. Keep in mind that each child is an individual with his or her own potential problems, as well as his or her own strengths, abilities, talents, and charms. Agencies will often share more specific information about each child after your family has completed a home study and expresses an interest in adopting that particular child.
National online adoption directories and photolistings can provide pictures and general descriptions of children around the country who are waiting for families. Because the descriptions in photolistings are so brief, it is important to understand what might be meant by certain phrases. For example, a description such as "very active, impulsive, needs a lot of attention and acts out" may suggest a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; a child described as "developmentally delayed" may be diagnosed with mild to moderate mental retardation. Be alert to any phrases that would indicate what it might be like to live with this particular child. After your home study is completed, talking with the child’s caseworker and others who know the child, such as a child’s former foster parents or teachers, will give you a more complete sense of a particular child.
From the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)