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My Cold Right Foot and straight talk nobody wants to hear about FASD

Posted Sep 05 2008 12:00am

Two very unrelated posts.

The last two days my right foot has been terribly cold all day long. My other foot seems fine and no, I'm not sticking one of them out of the window.

It's weird.

Yesterday I took 20 minutes doing steps on the Wii and still it was cold.

And I have to talk about FASD for a few minutes because lately Tony's behavior has been so much like Mike's that it scares me. He came to us at 20 months without any diagnosis (obviously). We have no proof that his birthmom drank while she was pregnant and there is no documentation that she did. But good grief....

Last night after the pringles throwing fit he finally settled down. We had a long talk about not taking things that don't belong to you and about telling the truth, etc. MInutes later I let him go sell some cards for a football fundraiser and he walked straight out the door and hopped on MY bike. Something in that brain of his just isn't clicking.

This brings me to the reason I am posting.... So many people who want to adopt will say "we won't accept kids with FASD." And all I think to myself in the back of my head is, "Good luck on that one."

Think about it. Seriously. A birthmom who cannot keep custody of her child -- is that someone that you think is going to be sober throughout her pregnancy? Sure, it's possible, but not probable. If the statistics are that 1 in 100 babies born today are born somewhere on the Fetal Alochol Spectrum, then I would guess that in the world of children removed from their birthparents because of a Child Protection issue, the statistics are going to be a lot lot higher.

But the kids are not diagnosed unless there are facial features. If there are no facial features there is supposed to be some kind of proof.

I recently had a caseworker send me a case file for one of the families I'm trying to match. I read through the file and it said all through the file that relatives said that the birthmom had been drinking during pregnancy. So I wrote back to the caseworker that my family had been trained about FASD and was willing to parent children who had those issues.

She wrote back and then called and said again and again, "these children are NOT diagnosed with FASD." I wanted to say, "WHO CARES?" But i"m a professional.

So the end result is that the family, who I told "you better prepare for kids who are all prenatally affected in one way or another" was not chosen. I hope that the social worker for the family who is chosen was able to make the same conclusion and not buy the story of the worker of the children.

If I were a betting person, I would bet every time on a kid from the system having been exposed to alcohol in utero. I prepare all my families for it. Then, if it isn't the case, a nice surprise. But that's better than not being prepared at all.

I know, not the news anyone wants to hear. But if you saw Tony at 20 months when he walked into our house you would have fallen in love with him too. And if you would have been naive and inexperienced like we were, you would have thought nothing of the fact that he was born to a 17 year old who was in foster care herself and most likely drank during the pregnancy. But looking back, we shoulda guessed.

That's not to say that we didn't love him ... and still don't. That's not to say we wouldn't do it again. It's just to say, I guess, that "there is no FASD diagnosis" really means virtually nothing. Because you have to figure that if you need admission of alcohol use that nobody who is being investigated for abusing or neglecting their child is going to say, "oh yeah, I drank all through my pregnancy."

And remember this: A lot of the damage to the brain of the fetus happens in the first trimester -- a time when a lot of women don't even know they are pregnant. So some birthmoms who make that responsible choice and stop drinking as soon as they find out they are pregnant still may have affected the child.

Not something you wanted to hear probably. But the facts. And I am sure my blatant honesty is going to enrage someone.

But seriously. Think about it. If you absolutely could not parent a child with FASD, adopting a child from foster care is like playing russian roulette. Except that there are more like 5 bullets in the gun instead of one.

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