I don't have a lot of time here but I wanted to do a fast post about FAS [Fetal Alcohol Syndrome] because my friend Stephanie Boyd, who has 10 adopted special needs kids, wrote an excellent blog called FAS - what's it really like?.
If you are an adoptive parent and you are baffled by some of the behaviors you see in your child, read Stephanie's post.
I can tell you, I wish I had accepted the fact much earlier that my daughter has some degree of fetal alcohol brain damage. It would've made it a bit easier, I think. I had two different therapists tell me they weren't sure. They didn't deal with her on a daily basis, though.
Lying and stealing are rampant in orphanages. Almost all the kids do it, particularly ones who have been there since they were babies or toddlers. But what came first, the brain damage or the behavior? I imagine a lot of kids in orphanages in Russia and former USSR countries have alcoholic birthmoms, because the incidence of alcoholism in those societies is great. They don't have public sedrvice announcements there like we do here, warning of drinking while pregnant.
One thing I love about Stephanie's post, though, is she isn't weeping and wailing and saying oh, I wish I hadn't adopted these kids. She's saying she would ADOPT AN FAS KID AGAIN. She and her wonderful husband are willing to take on the challenge, even though it's a LOT more work than with a "normal" kid.
This part of Stephanie's post especially struck me:
"This is another reason why people can't understand FAS. It is the invisible disability. They treat my child w/ a missing leg like there is something "wrong" with him. He is mentally JUST FINE! He's only missing a leg folks! My others have life long disabilities that will never ever go away. They have permanent brain damage but b/c they can't "see" it, they assume nothing is wrong and then question why one of the kids will act half their age."
I have Michael, who is clearly "disabled" [I hate that word] when you look at him, but I had Alesia, whose issues were much worse, and yet people looked at her and only saw a pretty little girl. They didn't know that I've never had issues with Michael lying or stealing, and those were huge issues with her.
Now, do I wish I had parented her better or differently? Absolutely. I wish I had figured it all out and been able to manage her better. The thing is, I ran out of time. She turned 18 and didn't have to obey me, and she was determined to get out there and "party" up a storm, and she did. I couldn't really stop her, although I certainly tried. I talked and talked to her. She wasn't ready to listen.
Alesia has a normal IQ and she made good grades in school. She was NOT a "bad kid," not at all. She was a kid who had a tough start in life.
Based on recent conversations, I think Alesia is starting to be much more aware of the world around her and of the consequences of her actions. I think she is finally maturing. Is she a typical 21 year old? No. More like about 15 or 16, emotionally.
None of her behavior is HER FAULT. She didn't ask to have an aocholic 16 year old birthmom. She didn't ask to get put in an orphanage at age 6. She didn't ask to be bullied or molested or beaten up. Nothing that ever happened to her was her fault. However, she has to take responsibility for her behaviors now, as an adult.
The one thing I wish I could convey to her is that she became my my daughter for a reason. God knows the plans. God doesn't mean for her to waste her life. She CAN do anything she wants. She is smart and beautiful, and has a basically sweet nature. Those are her assets.
We all have assets and liabilities. We all have to deal with them.
I have to go get ready for work, but I wanted to share this information. It's so important for adoptive parents.