This post is written by a dad, in hopes of sharing encouragement (and also to brag about his son)
This month is FASD Awareness Month. FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is the umbrella title over several diagnoses surrounding drug and alcohol exposure in utero. My son has a FASD. But he’s not defined by it.
“He came in first place!”
My fingers were shaking with joy as I sent this text to my spouse this past Sunday, from the 50th Special Olympics games where my son competed. He had asked me, just before the race, what place I thought he would get. “I don’t know bud. Just go out there and give it your best,” I said encouragingly. “Okay, I will. You’re in for a treat today dad,” he said with that cheesy grin of his that has always brought a smile to our faces.
There are days when you may struggle to believe that your child is ever going to be able to make it on their own, do the right thing, or even make safe choices. But I believe, there is hope for more!
Can I just be honest for a second. This past Sunday I’d had it with my child. HAD it! I was beyond frustrated with the behaviors. We had finally made it to church after weeks of not being there, and I plopped into my seat in the back row, hopeless!
On our adoptive and foster parenting journey, we’ve had lots of dark days. Sometimes many more than days of light. The amount of times we’ve felt like giving up and laying down are simply uncountable. But we’ve found unending hope…
“Your son has FASD!”
“This hearing is continued. And we’re reinstating visitations.”
“Hi, I’m your son’s principal. Just wanted you to know that he’s in the office again for punching another student and cussing out the teacher.”
“Ma’am, we caught your daughter stealing again. We have no choice but to press charges.”
Some see it as a taboo topic. Other’s share freely with detail. Still, there’s a debate over whether or not you should talk about your child’s traumatic past, or their current diagnosis, with them, or in front of them. Here’s where we land…
It was a normal summer night a few weeks ago when we sat down to dinner as a family. Actually, I should say, we FINALLY sat down to dinner as a family. Let’s just say, the summer was long, and we were running in at least 5 different directions every day since the end of the previous school year. As much as we filled our minds, and calendars, with lofty ideas of how the summer would play out, it all became delusions of grandeur.
Over the past year or so, we’ve received hundreds of emails from people who have the same heart cry- “Is there anyone out there who understands….who won’t judge….who can walk with me?”
I could feel her emotions through each word she typed in her email to me. She explained how she had adopted, with a full heart, a sibling group of 3 from foster care 7 years earlier. Everything seemed normal with both of them. The little girl, only 2 years old, was loving, and kind, and the oldest boy, while a bit rough and tumble, was starting to look like a leader among his siblings at only 6. The middle child, also a boy, was quiet, and introspective, but nothing concerned this loving mother too much. She went through with their adoption and they had found a forever home.
When you’re a foster or adoptive parent, you simply can’t walk into any pediatrician or therapist’s office and expect them to understand your child, or your family dynamic. So, how do you find the right provider?
Her words were gold (at least to us). “Well, I’m not sure if the behavior you’re seeing could be triggered by specific ingredients in foods and medicines, but, I’ll find out.” I’ll find out. She might as well have said, I’m on your side no matter what. To a couple of parents who had become accustomed to having doors slammed in our face (both figurative and literal), when we brought up the idea that our child’s disorder and the ingredients in foods may be a bad combination, this was a beam of light in the dark.
It’s a hot topic question in the foster and adoptive community right now. Should I medicate my child? And if so, what medications are right? We’re discussing this on today’s podcast episode.
We’ve all been down the medication route. Several times, in fact. We’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work, and what should be avoided altogether. Beyond that, we’ve also found helpful alternatives to medication. We fully understand this is a gray area in the foster and adoptive community, but on today’s episode of Honestly Speaking, we’re talking openly from all sides of this discussion.
Parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders can often feel hopeless and void of answers. In the debut of Season 5, Mike and Matt discuss practical strategies to help parents form a plan and find answers.
There are an estimated 40,000 infants born every year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. As we’ve mentioned many times the past on this blog and podcast, this is a disorder that is widely misunderstood and even judged. But there is new light being shed on the subject and it’s helping parents find resources and answers. We know how difficult it is day in and day out, to parent a son or daughter who suffers from this disorder. That’s why we’ve dedicated this episode to walking through some very practical and helpful strategies to help parents, on the journey of foster care and adoption, who feel helpless and hopeless as they parent children with FASD.