FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)… Does anyone have any experience?

posted 3 years ago in Parenting
Post # 3
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@FortiesFlare:  I would want to know if it’s really FAS caused by alcohol or exposure to drugs (prescription or illegal).  I work for a state agency so I have a lot of experience with this.  Some children are fine and grow up without any longterm effects.  Others grow up and have major mental health issues just like their birth parents (hence the reason why mom was drinking or doing drugs while pregnant.)  It’s really a gamble.

Most states require the agency to reveal any and all medical records on the child but that does not necessarily include the parents’ records.  Some cases of FAS are worse than others so pay attention to how long the child needed to be treated for withdrawal.  the shorter the time period usually the less exposure and the better the outcome.  If you can avoid a child with FAS then do it because then you are only gambling with the normal odds.

Post # 5
3787 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@FortiesFlare:  My ex prince is really limited, but I knew an adult with FAS related developmental disabilities when I was younger. She was probably conceived in the late sixties, but apparently the mom was a big drinker so it was almost definitely the cause although they didn’t really have the same type of information back then. 

FAS is a spectrum, so I’m sure there are a lot of people with much worse and much less issues. She had the cognitive maturity of an early to mid teenager at about thirty five or so. She was nice and quite functional but obviously limited. With the help of her brother, she was able to have an apartment with a roommate in a similar situation and have a job at least part time. (I think I was a cashier type job or maybe basic cleaning for an office building, I don’t remember.) Over all, I think she was very functional and had a life with activities and some other friends that were similar to her. 

Again, this is only one case. I’m sure that the foster pages are required to put “exposure to alcohol” on their pages for any exposure. Some of the kids might have little to no effects and I’m sure some might have very extreme effects. All I can suggest is really spending a lot of time talking to the case worker so you guys have a very real picture of any physical and emotional difficulties the kids are dealing with. I think it’s amazing that you’re exploring this option (I’ve always wanted to adopt out of foster care but truthfully DH and I are terrible candidates for a foster adopt) and I hope it works out for you! 

Post # 7
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

Accepting that you can’t handle a kid with a severe disability makes you an awesome parent, not a bad or selfish person! You know what you can handle!

I had a couple friends in highschool with FAS (two siblings). They were on the VERY low end of the spectrum, so they looked very different, but were lucky enough not to be mentally handicapped.

Post # 8
4964 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@FortiesFlare:  My experience is limited also, but I am a special ed teacher and have a student who has it. She has extreme learning disabilities. She has some medical issues, but nothing serious, and I do not know the details of them. 

Her parents adopted her, and the parents have 4 biological children and have adopted 3-4 other children with special needs (autism, etc.). I think its a wonderful thing to do but it is a lot of work!

Post # 9
3787 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@FortiesFlare:  Honestly, that’s ok. I actually think it’s better for everyone if you know that and are willing to admit it. All kids in the system need someone who is prepared and capable of being their biggest advocate and most patient, kind,a nd consistent teacher. Because even the kids with no physical or mental disabilities have had a hard go of it and need adults to help process it all and learn healthy coping mechanisms. 

I understand the thing about your son. But that could happen with two kids no matter what. I think once you fall in love with a kid, a balance will naturally come eventually. Obviously though your only child will feel like tey are competing for your attention for at least a while. But that will pass and he’ll learn so much about the world and kindness from having a sibling. 

Post # 11
650 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - EDD 06/12/2016

@FortiesFlare:  I nannied a 4 year old boy that was adopted and when he was 2 the mom found out he had FAS, at least you are aware of the child having this unlike her. It was tough. She struggled tremendously and still does (they moved to a different state). She went thought 6 nannies in 4 months before I started working for her. He had really really really bad behavioral problems. Biting, kicking, throwing, screaming. He would freak out very bad over small things. He had a ton of energy and could just keep going all day. he wasn’t potty trained until 5. It was very very difficult most days. But he was also a cuddle bug and the cutest boy I’ve ever seen, it breaks your heart seeing him act up because you know it isn’t his fault for being that way. As long as you and your husband can stay strong together and emotionally support each other, I think you should go for it. I miss that little boy with all my heart, even FAS kids need parents. 

Post # 12
545 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@FortiesFlare:  From a clinical/research perspective, with FAS being a spectrum, there will be some children who have more severe impairments than others and without extensive developmental testing, I feel like adopting a child with suspected FAS would be a huge unknown. Of course, adopting ANY child is big leap of faith – I have met several families who thought they had adopted a healthy child, but they actually ended up having significant disabilities. But it’s totally understandable to have some firm guidelines about the type of child who would be the best fit in your home, based on what can be known about any prospective child.

Post # 13
1208 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2004

I babysat a girl who had it when i was in my teens.  She had a lot of mental disabilities.  She is socially inept and looks different.  I am friends with her on facebook – her statuses do not make sense and she cannot formulate a sentence.  It is hard to explain and I don’t think I would feel right about posting anything from her facebook on here.  I don’t know to what extent her disorder is but it seems like it is pretty bad.  Good luck to you.

Post # 14
557 posts
Busy bee

@FortiesFlare:  I have only had one student who was diagnosed FAS. He did have minor behavior issues and a learning disability.

Don’t feel bad if you do not really want a child with a disability. I am a special ed teacher and I pray everyday that my child does not have a disability…not because I couldn’t handle it -obviously I had devoted my life to it…but when I look at my students I think about how I couldn’t work with them all day and then come home to my child with a disability. I would obviously choose my child over my job, but still, it is all about admitting what you personally want or do not want.


Good luck with your adoption!

Post # 15
683 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@FortiesFlare:  I have worked with many FAS kids as a special education teacher.  I applaud any one willing to take on the responsibility of caring for a child with this condition…it can be extremely trying and difficult.  Most of the students I have worked with have not been able to make it in a general high school.  They have ended up at outplacement facilities because of their behaviors. In general, these students had learning difficulties compounded by the inability to understand right vs wrong, difficulty coping with day to day stressors, and sometimes violent/extremely emotional outbursts.   Every case is different and I’m sure others will have more positive things to say.  Unfortunately, I have only witnessed a lot of heartbreak and stress for those families that have a child with FAS.

Post # 16
9526 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

What age you you hoping to adopt? Are you going domestic or international? What about physical problems (cleft lip, clubbed feet, etc.)

Honestly, in your situation I’d consider adopting an older local child. Because it’s super difficult to determing cognitive level in an infant. If you get a child that is a few years old you’ll have a better estimate of development. This willl still limit your options because many adopted children are delayed due to the circumstances they were living in prior to adoption and then they catch up developmentally. But it will give you the best estimate of if a child is going to have a cognitive disability.

I work with children and adults with all level of congnitive disabilities. It’s not easy. Divorce rates are statistically higher for parents of children with special needs. So I can respect your self awareness if this is something that you don’t think you could handle. It’s not the choice I would make, but that’s okay. I will say that I don’t think you should worry about your son. I have talked with many many many siblings of children with special needs and they almost all benefit from it. There are the inevitable sibling rivalries. And parents that may have to put in more effort with their siblings. But these siblings are given a wonderful oportunity to learn empathy, compasion, patience, love, humiliity and acceptance. And we could all use more of that!

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