Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Travelers, be alert, careful

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Brenda Raymond-Ball, Ohio administrator for Families Thru International Adoption in Blue Ash, says she's been fielding calls from would-be adoptive parents seeking advice on their upcoming trips to Asia.

"We've been getting a lot of concerned callers," says Raymond-Ball. "The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) advisories have been helpful for the most up-to-date information. We advise parents to be conscious of their surroundings."

She says so far she's not spoken with families who've decided not to travel.

"It's more of them choosing who to make the trip with," since entire families sometimes travel to pick up the adoptee.

"Where they normally exit through Hong Kong," to get to the port city of Beijing to fly back to America, "now they have to exit through Guangdong Province," Raymond-Ball says.

Other local families turn to Dr. Mary Staat, director of the International Adoption Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Corryville. She says parents are opting to send one parent and leave one home with the family's other children.

"A family was considering traveling with their daughter, with mom staying home, says Dr. Staat. "We decided it was a necessity for dad to go, but probably not the daughter. It's important to look at every family situation before deciding if it's best for them.

"Some of our families still travel through Hong Kong, so we encourage them to stay as isolated as possible. Stay as much as possible in their hotel rooms and not travel around town the way they have in the past.

"We strongly encourage hand washing and limiting exposure to others. There are lots of other infections like measles in these countries, so we always tell family to limit your exposure anywhere."

For more information, contact:

Families Thru International Adoption: www.ftia.org; 794-1515 or (888) 797-9900.

International Adoption Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center: www.cincinnatichildrens.org/svc/prog/int-adopt/default.htm; 636-4200.

Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov; (877) 394-8747.

World Health Organization: www.who.int/en.

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