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Adopting a baby (risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)

(8 Posts)
UKABC Sun 19-Jul-20 20:37:01

We have been approached by our adoption agency to adopt the 5-month baby sibling of our healthy adopted children. The baby was born prematurely, but had a normal weight and according to the medical report is healthy and developing well. However, the biological mother is known to have drank at different points throughout the pregnancy (including binge drinking) and has taken cocaine (we don’t know if this was the case while the mother was pregnant with our children, but they are developing well). We are really conflicted and don’t know if we should adopt the baby. We really want to, but our concern is that there is a very high risk of the baby having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, particularly a severe form of it, which might result in the baby not being able to become an independent adult one day and being fully dependent on us for the rest of our lives. We are concerned about our children and the impact this could have on their lives.

We are completely lost and stressed and don’t know how to make a decision. I have been looking at statistics online, but these are not very conclusive.

Has anyone adopted a baby or a child for whom there was a risk of FASD? How did you make the decision?

We are desperate for some guidance, so any experiences or tips will be greatly appreciated!


OP’s posts: |
Mama1980 Sun 19-Jul-20 20:56:11

Hi my youngest dd (adopted at birth) was born addicted. Her birth mother drank and took drugs throughout her pregnancy.
The main problem with FASD etc. Is that the symptoms and any medical issues do not tend to present until the child is much older and there's no way to tell how they may have been a effected and to what extent.
For me I already had already adopted her much elder half sister (very complex situation) so the biological link was a factor for me.
I also have two biological sons, and I was very conscious of the potential issues I would be bringing into all of their lives.
I would recommend asking as many questions as possible, for example is baby thriving, were there any withdrawal symptoms or issues at birth?
In my daughters case my decision to adopt her was something I made having done as much frantic googling as possible but ultimately it was a heart over head decision. I knew there were any number of potential issues in the future.
FWIW my daughter is developmental delayed (which was clear by the time she was about 18 months) and suffers from a seizure disorder, which presented quite quickly but the severity of which wasn't apparent for a year or so.
I don't regret my decision for a second, we all adore her and I'm so glad I made the decision I did.....but it has also turned our lives upside down to a certain extent. Lots of A and E trips, physio therapy etc.
Not sure if any of that helps sorry, but if you have any questions I'll be happy to answer if I can.

Hels20 Sun 19-Jul-20 23:19:31

We adopted our DS2 who had high risk of FAS but he was 12 months by the time he was on our radar. We then flip flopped over the situation / partly because the SW were really slow to answer questions and arrange a meet with the paediatrician. I also spoke to a lovely lady in Oxfordshire who runs a FAS charity.
I couldn’t decide. In the end we took the plunge. 3.5 years later we are not out of the woods. He may have FAS (though no physical signs) but has just fine Reception / a bit behind in some areas but he is doing ok. He is delightful but a handful and hard work. Not sure I will ever really know.

What I would say is that we have had a much harder time with our DS1 who is now 9. He hasn’t been at school full time for 2 years, severe anxiety / despite having good academic genes he is really struggling with school because of his trauma. We had no idea it would end up like this when we adopted him and problems only began to surface when he turned you just never know. He definitely does not have FAS. But other issues. So much uncertainty with adoption.

FWIW - if there was a biological link, I would probably take the sibling.

But adoption is so tough and it may be that the extra child just is too much. It’s ok to say “no”.

fasparent Tue 21-Jul-20 00:30:00

WOULD insist that LA refer's child too Genetic Clinic prior too adoption there may be other underlying genetic chromanones issuse unrelated too FASD., also inquire too after adoption support and long term financial assistance which should be afforded too children with long term lifetime disability's such as FAS FASD which can be later effect the child's development. Max payable £50,000 pa Gov pays half LA the remainder. See for details click on adoption support.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Tue 21-Jul-20 11:53:11

Were you looking to adopt again?
When you adopted before did you think you could cope with FASD?

If the answer to both is No, then I'd think carefully. The baby might be better placed in a home where people have more time / skills to cope with whatever develops, and where they don't have existing children to worry about.

Yes there is a biological link, but not a shared background or emotional link yet.

UKABC Tue 21-Jul-20 16:01:10

Thanks eveyone for your helpful comments.

Thank you @fasparent for raising the genetic test possibility and the support available.

@UnderTheNameOfSanders we thought about adopting a third before, but not a baby. When we adopted our children our youngest was nearly two years old and was developing well and normally so we could see there was nothing severe (although things might obviously come up as he grows up). Just like with any other adoption we knew and accepted the risks, including FADS. For us the thing about adopting a baby is not knowing if the baby has a severe issue that will make him dependent on us forever if you know what I mean. This could have huge implications for our family and our adopted children. On the other hand we know that if we don’t adopt the baby, our children’s sibling might stay in the care system and end up not being adopted by anyone (this unfortunately happens to many children). This is something that we would find difficult to live with.

So in answer to your question, yes we thought about adopting a third and when we adopted we didn’t consider FASD too much, as alcohol consumption was not mentioned in the report (although violence and drugs were). I suspect that the mother drank throughout both pregnancies, but I don’t really know for sure.

OP’s posts: |
ifchocolatewerecelery Tue 21-Jul-20 22:28:44

Whilst I understand where you are coming from with your worry that this child might not be adopted, I've met some fantastic long term foster carers. Some also have gone on to obtain an SGO for the child, proving their long term commitment.

One thing no one seems to have mentioned is what about babies 4 and 5? It is entirely possible that she will go on to have them and there might come a point where you will have to accept that you cannot be responsible for another person's decisions even when that means your children will grow up not knowing all their biological siblings.

EarnshawLintonHeathcliff Tue 28-Jul-20 04:54:28

I share so many of your worries I think OP. Have come here for support after saying no to LO's half sibling, am absolutely devastated as definitely wanted to say yes but single adopter with two under 3 would be hard work. The biological dimension makes it so much harder, I couldn't even begin to think straight for weeks, still don't even though decision is made - am now just sad. But, like you and many here, I have to consider what's best for my LO and my gut tells me LO is not ready to share time and attention just yet as is still just a baby too. Good luck with your decision, not sure I'd be much help at all but willing to chat if you wanted. Take care, and be kind to yourself.

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