You were told of your new assignment overseas. Among many things that came to your mind, I am sure you thought about your children. How will they survive the move? Will they be able to adapt to the new country? What about their schooling? What do we have to take from here? So, let me explain about what to expect when you are planning to raise your children in a foreign country.
Know the medical system
Whenever you plan to use the medical services of the country you are staying, it is important to know the medical system of the country.
For example, if your child gets sick, there are countries where you have to judge the symptom and visit the right specialist. Many countries have the private hospital as well as the public hospitals where it is usually run by the government. There are some countries where you would have to be covered by more than one insurance company. Other countries may advise you to enroll in national health insurance as well as private medical insurance. Payment method may differ; some hospitals require you to pay in advance, others may send you a bill.
In some countries you do not get a prescription but receive the medicine from the doctor and not from the pharmacist. So each country has a different medical system and you need to find this out first.
Looking for the right doctor for your child
When you move to a foreign country with your child, the first thing you may want to find out is the doctor for your child. You never know when your child may get sick or have an accident.
Find out which doctor is highly recommended by the people around you. It is always good to ask the locals as well as the foreigners. You may also want to consult the insurance company or have the medical staff at the embassy recommend doctors. However, remember that for one family Dr. A. might be an excellent doctor but for another family, Dr. A. could be the worst match. So find out what you are looking for in the doctor and if she or he meets those criteria, then he or she must be the right match for you and your child.
Language barrier may be one of the biggest obstacle when consulting a doctor. If you have the time, find the words to describe the symptoms. If you need an interpreter, take someone who speaks both languages.
Different country, different ways
One of the exciting things about raising your child overseas is the opportunity to know how children are raised in that particular country.
When you bring up your child never to drink water from the tap, then he/she will continue to drink bottled water even after they return to their own country where tap water is safe to drink.
Perhaps you will get advice from the health nurse of the country, which you may not agree. In such case, just listen and try it anyway. For example, you may not be used to giving daily vitamin D to your baby, but in some countries where you do not get much sun, it is important to have that Vitamin D for the health of the child. It's always good to ask why such practice is followed in that country.
If you feel uncomfortable with the suggestions of the health nurse of the country, then go back to the way you are used to. But surprisingly, you may find out that such method may be better in that country whereas maybe not in your home country. I have enjoyed carrying my daughter in a sarong. (a piece of cloth used to wrap around the waist in Indonesia)
Each country has its own immunization schedule. It will be helpful if you know in advance what sort of immunization is required for the children of the country. If you are concerned about the hygiene situation of the country, you may want to have your child immunized in your home country or have it done when you go back for home leave.
In developing countries and some industrialized countries, BCG is a requirement. Be prepared that polio may not be a drop, but an injection, or one like a stamp, or on the shoulder, thigh, or buttocks.