Friday, September 05, 2008

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

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.


Cindy said...

You're just saying what needs to be said.

Monica said...

Thanks for this post. I have recently been suspecting that my 4yr old might have been prenatally exposed to alcohol. I know that he was exposed to drugs. His bio mom was incarcerated the last part of her pregnancy and at the time of his birth. I'm told the two bio sibs immediately older than him have pretty signifigant delays. Unfortunately, according to a replay from Kari, it doesn't look like we can get a diagnosis unless we have proof. His bio mom has disappeared again so that won't happen. I'm just hoping I can find whatever help he will need instead of people just assuming he's "spoiled" as some of my friends and family members have already said. That's definitely not what it is and it's frustrating to have them assume so and I'm concerned his teachers will do the same when he starts school.

Torina said...

Fleece warmed up in the dryer. That'll do the trick. I have cold feet. Literally not figuratively.

Glad you brought up the thing that nobody wants to hear cause it is true. And nobody wants to say it either. For my first, FASD scared the bejeebers out of me. But our worker asked what would happen if we got a kid and then found out later on that they had FASD, and I remember saying, "Well, we'd deal with it one step at a time."

And really, what social worker is around enough to truly know if the bithmom drank while pregnant. My daughter's social worker swore up and down that bmom didn't drink cause it wasn't documented. Oh, for pete's sake woman, all I had to do was track down the bio-siblings and ask them and found out that mom drank throughout the pregnancy. Every day from the start of the pregnancy to the end. In "moderation." meaning at each meal but not fall-down drunk. I would rather have social workers say, "It isn't in the file but that doesn't mean it isn't possible" than "I'm sure it didn't happen." when they can't be sure about anything...

Toni and Rod said...

Our Tasha was in foster care for 5 years. She is now 19. Her mother was and still is an alcoholic. We feel that she has FASD, for many reasons, but she has never been diagnosed. My question is this, Are these kids to old to get a diagnosis and what would they benefit from one?

Linda B. said...

There are more statistics out there that support you Claudia--Kari must have them. The facial features are what people are always looking for, but only about 5% of the kids exposed prenatally have the features. (I believe it's 5%-it's really low)The kids in foster care--very high % are affected. Wish I could remember that one. Was it 85 or 95%? I"m so glad you brought this up.