International adoption is a long process involving bureaucracy of government agencies and regulations in two countries. While you wait for the application to be approved and prepare all the paperwork, there are other things that you should do to prepare yourself and your family for the final step of bringing your child home. You should prepare in advance, before you go to your adopted child's country of origin, to immunize yourself against diseases and infections that you wouldn't normally encounter at home. Routine vaccinations should be up-to-date, including booster shots when necessary, for both the parents and children in the household. For adults this would include tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Hepatitis A and B are diseases that can easily be contracted and immunization is recommended before traveling.

Children in developing countries are not routinely immunized. They may be at risk of exposure to childhood diseases and other infectious diseases, and very often there is no reliable medical history available. Children adopted internationally often live under conditions in their country of origin that put them at risk for various diseases and infections. They undergo a medical examination in their country of origin by a physician appointed by the Department of State; however a medical examination and screening for a variety of diseases and conditions must be done after your arrival at home. To receive a visa for your adopted child, you must agree to all immunizations, and the medical history from the country of origin is not a reliable indication of correct and timely immunization. It is safe to repeat most vaccines.

Risk of exposure to some diseases that can be immunized against or avoided by other prophylactic measures depends on your destination, and you can find that information at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).