The key to successful adoption of a child with hepatitis B is to be prepared with accurate information about the disease, and to protect yourself and other members of your household with the hepatitis B vaccine prior to the child's arrival.
International and Domestic Adoption
Many people wish to adopt children from countries where hepatitis B infections are common: Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and some parts of Africa. Children from these regions are often infected with the virus from their birth mothers who have hepatitis B and unknowingly pass the disease on to their children during delivery. In addition, many of these countries re-use needles for medications or blood tests, a practice that places children at risk if they have not already been infected at birth.
Domestic adoptions also present some risk to potential adoptive families. Children born to women in high-risk groups (e.g. illicit drug users, multiple sexual partners, etc.) could have been infected with hepatitis B at birth. In addition, children from group homes are at increased risk for hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis B Testing
Your agency should be able to tell you if a child has been tested for hepatitis B. With an international adoption, it is advised that you do not request that your child be tested since the blood test itself could be a source of infection. If you are concerned about the results of these tests, please contact us to speak with our knowledgeable staff. We can also refer you to a parent who has adopted a child with hepatitis B.
Reassurance for Adoptive Parents
Finding out that the child you wish to adopt has chronic hepatitis B can be upsetting, but should not be cause for alarm or stopping an adoption. We hope that a hepatitis B diagnosis will not change your decision to adopt a child. You can be reassured that most children will enjoy a long and healthy life. Hepatitis B does not usually affect a child's normal growth and development, and there are generally no physical disabilities or restrictions associated with this diagnosis.
Please see our Advice for Parents for more information.