As a pediatric speech pathologist, I have had tremendous opportunity over the past few years to work with children adopted from many countries. The greatest number have come from China between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. In my opinion, all adopted children should receive both close professional observation for developmental milestones, and extensive medical evaluations.
The most important result of early assessments is to give adoptive parents extensive information about the well-being, health, and development of their child. This knowledge empowers families then to offer the best start in life. I have personally seen numerous children who, after being evaluated as developmentally delayed across the board, absolutely flourish following early intervention services. I have witnessed, for example, a 3-year-old adopted from Eastern Europe, whose usual verbal pattern with her family was to screech and scream. With the aid of speech and language therapy, she quickly adapted an appropriate sound level. As services progressed, this little pupil acquired other communication skills at a rapid rate. Once, she even picked up appropriate gesturing during the very moments the therapist was demonstrating them.
Parents must recognize that children who may not have been adequately nurtured will almost always show some form of developmental delay. This does not mean they then must suffer dramatic, lifelong difficulties. What it does mean is, such children need our help. They need an extra push -- a concentrated exposure to auditory feedback and reinforcement, particularly from a source outside the family -- from someone other than the emotionally associated primary caregiver. This experience enables many children to overcome whatever they missed in the earliest stages of their life.