I ran across this introduction by an adoptive mom that has joined a Yahoo Post Adoption Support Group I’m in. Have you ever been tempted to judge an adoptive parent of a child who has FAS? Do you think they are somehow responsible for the behavior of a child who has been damaged by their birth parent’s drinking? Do you think you could have done better? Have you ever wondered why it is that even though you have taught your adopted child how to live right they totally ruin their lives with bad decisions once they are out on their own? Well, welcome to our club – the Adoptive Moms of FAS Kids Club. It’s exclusive club. You have to have loved someone else’s child and been ostracised because of it to join.  

Our questions may never have any answers, but God knows that the parents of these kids have been faithful and are not responsible for damage done way before they came on the scene. That’s really all we do know for sure – God understands and knows. Well, maybe there is something else we know for sure. Others who haven’t adopted and raised a child with FAS don’t understand and don’t know. Am I bitter? No. God has taught me way too much to dwell on the ignorance of others and to let it affect my view of myself or God. Am I disappointed? Yes. I am disappointed for this adoptive mom – that she’s not supported or helped by those who ought to care and have the resources to help. BTDT!

Here is Mrs. Smith’s introduction:

I am an infant mental health specialist, certified teacher ART k-12 and general ed K-8. I have a Master’s in Early Childhood Education, and specialist in FASD [A term used to identify damage to a child because the mom drank alcohol while pregnant] issues. I’m on the state’s FASD Task Force as a parent, but previously as a professional I was the coordinator for Wayne County’s FAS Awareness project. I live in the Ann Arbor area. I adopted 2 children from foster care…. long story but I am a single parent…. I became involved in foster care when I decided to participate in a grant to take in drug-affected infants. That must have been about 16 years ago, because my son is now 14.

Yes, my ds [dear son] was my first infant I took in on the grant, 3 days old from the hospital. As an infant mental health specialist I worked hard on the attachment piece. The attachment had a bigger impact on me that I expected, and when his birth mom’s rights were terminated at age 2, I decided I would adopt. About 4 years later I decided to adopt one more. That is my dd [dear daughter], who is now 9. Interestingly, my son looked good at birth, full term, full head size. Only “alleged” drug use. My daughter, on the other hand was premature, low birth weight, tested positive for crack and came out swimming in alcohol. Guess which one has the brain damage. My son! Go figure. This is one of the big mysteries that surrounds FAS. We know that of twins both exposed to alcohol, one can have the syndrome, the other not. We know that brain damage can be just as substantial with the facial features as without them! Kids with an average IQ, like my son, can have the same serious brain damage as a kid with low IQ, but people don’t recognize it as brain damage because of his IQ, and hold him culpable!

Ah well, enough preaching!

My son has been in residential for 2 years, supported by adoption subsidy. I have been facing threats of neglect charges for almost that long. I have come to understand that this is not uncommon in Michigan post adoption support services. It is sad for the parents who try so hard with the state’s most difficult kids. It is sad for the children who, through no fault of their own (i.e., alcohol and/or early neglect), must be abandoned by the state if they cannot be “fixed” within a time frame, or look like they will need a life time of support. I want to work with the state to find solutions to this problem. The solutions need not be expensive, but must be practical. “Punishing” parents won’t help. In fact, it will deter “good” potential foster/adoptive parents from considering the state’s children. It is a lose/lose situation. Let’s work to discover the “win/win.”