I'm taking a break from my HIV questions series to address another common question in adoption: what about fetal alcohol syndrome disorders?
I'll be honest: this was the special need area that scared me the most. We were not open to adopting a child with known prenatal exposure to alcohol or other substances.
But when we were well into the adoption process for one of our children, we received more detailed medical information, and there it was: a note that significant alcohol exposure and possible drug exposure had occurred while our little one was in her first mother's womb.
We were committed.
We were already in love.
We were also scared.
Technically, given that she has another neurological disorder, our doctors haven't seen it necessary to add "fetal alcohol syndrome disorder" (or FASD) to her list of diagnoses. We're okay with that for now.
Just as ugly stigma often accompanies HIV, we knew the same was true for FASD. That's why we haven't gone public with this diagnosis before now.
But a month ago, I was invited to be part of the blogging team for a series of upcoming FREE webinars about FASD.
For us, FASD hasn't been the scary boogeyman we thought it was when we ruled it out as a special needs adoption area we'd consider. As we firmly believe that other adoptive parents need to be fully informed in considering all special needs areas, I definitely recommend these. If you're considering getting pregnant or work with a population in which addiction or pregnancy (or both) are a reality - like in social work, crisis pregnancy centers, counseling, and so on - this can be helpful to you too.
(And did I mention they're FREE?)
I'm already all registered. You can register here.
(Also, continuing ed credits are available and described in that link too, so check that out if you're an educator, psychologist, addiction professional, or social worker.)
While I'm primarily interested in this information from the standpoint of a parent for whom FASD is already a reality in our family's smorgasbord of diagnoses, an aim of this informational campaign is to prevent FASD. Because it - like HIV and many other special needs - is preventable through effective education and prenatal care.
So join us in the webinars, and feel free to come back here the day after each one for my recap posts on February 14, February 21, and February 28.
Because no child ever needs to have a fetal alcohol syndrome disorder.
And no child ever needs to become an orphan because they already have a fetal alcohol syndrome disorder.
Knowledge is power.