As parents of children with special needs, particularly Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, we often receive the question, “How do you know if your child’s behavior is a choice, or if it’s their disorder?”
All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around this couple and hug them. We stood by the stage, just after I finished presenting to their foster parent group, and talked about the difficult child they were parenting. She was their first foster placement, and all signs pointed to adoption, until her bi-polar disorder forced a difficult decision. Now, she was no longer living in their home, and they were forced to visit her in a psychiatric unit. The outlook was bleak.
As foster and adoptive parents, we’ve overheard all kinds of awful things spoken about our children, even to our children. Recently, I heard something that caused my blood to boil, and my heart to break…
As I type these words, I go back in my mind to the moment you said those horrible words- “Well, if he has brain damage, he should be in an institution.” I’m sitting here trying to convince myself that you didn’t mean them…that your words were misheard by me…that you don’t really feel that way. But, I’m not sure if that’s the case.
For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.
That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.
I’m angry at a broken world where addiction runs rampant, angry that we’ve been forced to accept a new normal, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.