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Can we talk about... Alcohol exposure?

(32 Posts)
Twelvetinyfeet Wed 05-Aug-20 20:32:08

We are approved to adopt and have had a profile shared of a LO who is developing well (just under a year old). However, BM drank throughout pregnancy and we are very concerned about the risks of fasd. Could anyone share their experiences of parenting children who have been exposed to alcohol in utero, with or without a later diagnosis??

OP’s posts: |
Twelvetinyfeet Wed 05-Aug-20 20:52:58

Just to add that I've spent so much time researching and reading that I now feel really confused, and honestly, pretty scared, so I guess I'm looking for real life experiences x

OP’s posts: |
Jannt86 Wed 05-Aug-20 22:51:34

Sorry no direct experience so mostly commenting to bump you a bit and hope that some fasd parents comment too. From what I do know though although it's obviously great that your match is currently developing well it doesn't necessarily mean that no problems are going to show themselves. I think you need to consider the worst case scenario and ask yourself if you can and want to cope with this. I hope some fasdling parents comment for you too. Good luck xx

RoomForMore Thu 06-Aug-20 06:55:38

DD was exposed to alcohol and drugs during pregnancy. Her birth mum consistently tested positive. She is now over a year old and isn't displaying any effects. She didnt need to be withdrawn at birth either. We have been told that we might not see it affecting her till she is as old as 5.

SittingontheSidelines Thu 06-Aug-20 08:15:35

Hi, I adopted my foster son (late in life,)with me since birth. Facial features. Is now in his early teens. It has been a very positive experience for us. He is a joy and behaviour wise we have not experienced anything like those shared by some parents on FASD forums. We had early intervention and brilliant support from his primary school which helped enormously. However education support has been an ongoing struggle. Lots of minor medical interventions/surgeries, especially early on. The usual teen dramas with the added worries of him being socially immature, so he's always feeling we are over protective. He has interests and enthusiasms which we support and encourage. We worry for his future. I think however much you read it is a leap in the dark. It's a spectrum disorder and can present in many different ways. We had the advantage of already loving our boy when the decision was made. We have never regretted our decision

Twelvetinyfeet Thu 06-Aug-20 09:18:21

Thanks for your replies, that's really helpful. @SittingontheSidelines I think you've got the nail on the head with regards it being a leap in the dark, that's very much how I feel.

@RoomForMore would you mind sharing his you came to your decision in your match with your LO? I think I have seen that you have other children so it would be helpful to know how they factored in to your decision making?

@Jannt86 did you actively make the decision not to consider children with exposure to alcohol or was it just how things panned out?

Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
RoomForMore Thu 06-Aug-20 10:01:14

The profiles of children we had been shown before DD all had extensive medical needs. Tube feeding, likely to be unable to live independently as an adult, known brain injury etc.

Then we were told about DD and that there were no obvious medical / physical needs but the future due to alcohol & drug abuse was 'unknown'. We took the risk. We've always seen it as a positive to involve our BC in this. It makes them more aware of their privilege, and aware of the needs of others and that we aren't all born with the same advantages. We're hoping as they get older that they will be really compassionate to other children with different backgrounds because their sister has one. Not in a pitying way, just in a way that we all deserve to be loved and respected because we dont choose what we're born into... sort of way. I'm not sure if I'm putting this very well confused but they really love their sister and are very protective of her smile

2mums1son Thu 06-Aug-20 10:42:33

Our son was 3 and there was uncertainty about alcohol. We have no diagnosis of FASD. I see traits of some behaviours which I know are linked to FASD but these could also be linked to trauma. I genuinely think in adoption there are so many unknowns. Some behaviour we see we attribute to things that we know are linked to time in FC where he spent far more of his life before us than he did with BF. There are Unknowns for us about pregnancy and the next three years, we just decided he felt right and he was/is.

EightWellies Thu 06-Aug-20 14:22:51

DD1 has FASD. In the main she was developing pretty normally until she was 4 or so and then things started to become more obvious. She's now 8.

The thing that's complicated about FASD is the wide range of things it impacts on - memory, sensory stuff, sleep, impulse control, language and on and on. With DD1, she's only affected quite mildly in each area, though it varies day to day, but across the totality of her as a person, that adds up to a big impact. It makes it hard to find effective support for her or have her difficulties acknowledged.

DD1 is in mainstream school and is progressing pretty well, but that's with her working much, much harder than her peers and tumbling out of school exhausted. She's a wonderful kid, but it's so hard seeing her struggle. We're getting better at finding strategies, but we go through phases where her violence is pretty full on and it can be really hard to keep both my kids safe. She's now more aware of her own differences and that can be really challenging in terms of balancing being honest without affecting her self-esteem.

Happy to answer anything else you'd like to know.

EightWellies Thu 06-Aug-20 14:23:28

That did have paragraphs when I typed it confused

sadwithkiddies Thu 06-Aug-20 15:47:11

I have 3 with FASD.
It's a real range but they are all affected. All need 1-1 at school. All have learning difficulties. 1 needed physio on limbs and splints for the first 2 years as the muscles were so contracted the fingers/toes were curled inwards.
1 is tube fed and always will be - the part of the brain that controls eating is so damaged it will never recover.
All are visually impaired - fasd children must have yearly check ups as there can be pressure on the optic nerve which causes swelling in the brain.

It's very very hard work....that said 1 would be a breeze! wink

All mine diagnosed before 12 months old

Jannt86 Thu 06-Aug-20 17:03:46

@Twelvetinyfeet no I didn't make the decision consciously tbh. I did my research though and subconsciously was aware that it would be one of the more difficult obstacles to overcome. I think that with any issue in adoption you have to be sure of what you're taking on that it's what you want but you will also have to accept a degree of the unknown whichever child you choose. Many adoptees will have been exposed to alcohol in the womb even if BM doesn't admit it. I think there's a bit of evidence that it's a much more prevalent issue than we realise. There will always be unknowns and what I would say is whatever child you make your own just treat them and enjoy them as a child and deal with any issues that come along rather than looking for them. I have been quite overworried about my LG because both her parents have a degree of LD and it's not that I'm bothered if she grows up not to be academic but I know what opportunities it creates and I know how important these first few years are so I'm really trying to do as much as I can to give her the best start. In reality she's coming across really quite bright so far though and I'm getting less worried the older she gets and I know we will deal with whatever the future holds. I think if you really think about the automatic disadvantages that our adoptees automatically face it does make you fiercely overprotective but all you can really do is love them and support them and hope that things turn out ok in the end. If you can look back when they're adults and know that you did what you could to support them and be a source of unconditional love for their entire life then that will be all that matters in the end xx

grimweeper Thu 06-Aug-20 20:44:56

Please can I just gently interject here, gently as I know the intention behind the post is good:
Many adoptees will have been exposed to alcohol in the womb even if BM doesn't admit it. I think there's a bit of evidence that it's a much more prevalent issue than we realise there is no evidence to say this, and it is not a helpful thing to say. It is a prevalent issue in society generally, many women drink at the wrong time because they don't know they are pregnant. But what you have said about evidence is not true, there is so little evidence or information across the service it could not even be an assumption, and it is better to take each case on its merits.

I think if you really think about the automatic disadvantages that our adoptees [ ] this is meant well, I know, but it is in fact a very "othering" thing to say about adoptees. Each adoption situation is different, each adoptee and their situation is different, there really is not such thing as "our" adoptees or anything close, and to say it is not helpful or accurate.

Sorry OP for the small interruption, I hope that you manage the find the right path for you.

veejayteekay Fri 07-Aug-20 15:29:20

Hi there our son is now coming up 2 and we brought him home at 13 months. He was exposed to alcohol, benzodiazepines and amphetamine in utero along with domestic violence although our understanding was that it was drugs rather than alcohol that he was more exposed to. He was thoroughly assessed on 3 seperate occasions by a doctor before we adopted him at newborn, 3 month and 12 months and their view was that from a slight observation that he had a wide bridged nose he was not showing any facial or developmental characteristics of FASD as far as they could tell and was meeting all his milestones. As a young baby I know he was born in withdrawal (albeit on the mild end of the scale miraculously) and that he was described as having a fractious cry and disrupted sleep for a while. He has continued to meet and in some cases exceed his milestones and at the moment we're not observing anything of great concern although frankly I think that's quite a miracle and am very conscious that we are early days and a lot of future needs may not be apparent at this stage. If I had to speculate on anything I would maybe pre empt we may be in for some mild behavioural issues if anything although atm it's very hard to extricate certain things from being a "typical" toddler so time will tell. This is my honest experience not sure how helpful it is bit I guess what I'm saying is despite all the odds and us going in with eyes wide open (my background is in working with substance misuse and domestic abuse,) he is doing incredibly well and no signs of anything thus far. Balanced with the full appreciation that it may well take time for these things to emerge

121Sarah121 Fri 07-Aug-20 16:16:22

I don’t envy your decision @Twelvetinyfeet

When we were going through matching, my Sw shared a profile of a baby (under 1) who had been exposed to alcohol in the womb. He had facial features and hadn’t met his milestones. It was the most agonising decision we made. Probably hardest out of all the children we considered. We have a birth daughter and decided that due to the level of uncertainty, he wasn’t for us. I couldn’t guarantee I would meet all his needs. He needed more than us. I found out that he was adopted pretty quickly by another family who could meet his needs and I knew then I made the right decision to let him be with his family who could give him 100% of their time (whereby I couldn’t as I had another child).

Can you meet this baby’s needs now and in the future? Do you need to return to work? Do you have other children? Do you want more children? There are a lot of unknowns, no one can predict the future but based on what you know, are you his/her perfect fit?

SimonJT Fri 07-Aug-20 16:30:52

My son was exposed to alcohol in the womb and a variety of drugs including cocaine and suffered withdrawl at birth (but was still allowed to be in sole care of BM!).

His two older birth siblings do both have FASD, one quite severely.

My son recently turned five, he doesn’t have any physical features associated with FASD, so far his milestones have been met or he has exceeded them. However due to his age I’m well aware that from now onwards we may start to see signs of FASD.

Its also difficult because some symptoms are also fairly common symptoms of ACEs.

Stinkyjellycat Fri 07-Aug-20 22:00:34

I’m response to a PP, there is evidence that children in care, and by extension those who have been adopted, are much more likely to have been exposed to alcohol in utero. For example, a report by the Scottish government reported that:
‘^^Children looked after or adopted are at significantly increased risk of having FASD, with 75% of children referred for adoption having a history of alcohol exposure during pregnancy.’^^

This is significantly higher than in the rest of the population. Link here:
www.sdf.org.uk/scotland-publishes-first-uk-guidelines-for-diagnosing-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-fasd/
This is just one example but there is more similar evidence out there if you look for it.

user1479136681 Sat 08-Aug-20 16:48:38

I think I could have written this post myself a few months ago!! Our son was exposed to alcohol in the womb, in my opinion he does have facial features although our SW says he doesn't... He does have epicanthic folds for example but he's put on weight really well. He's now 17 months and meeting all his milestones so far. Obviously we don't know how he will develop in the future but now that he's my son rather than just a baby, I feel more like I can cope because I'll do it for him.

AskDan Sun 09-Aug-20 08:39:36

My son was exposed to alcohol in womb and he is primary school age. He doesn't have any of the physical signs of FASD.

He has difficulties with learning, sensory processing, sequencing, impulse control and memory.

The professionals cant quite pin down the source of his difficulties, apart from SPD and I do wonder if some of it us down to birth mum's drinking.

Twelvetinyfeet Sun 09-Aug-20 09:30:52

Thanks so much to everyone for your replies, it's really helpful to read about real experiences, although we still have an awful lot of talking and thinking to do, and I'm aware that balancing head with heart doesnt come easy to me!

@sadwithkiddies are your LOs a sibling group and did you know prior to their coming to you that they had fasd?

@AskDan would you mind sharing when you noticed difficulties with your son?

Thanks again everyone.

OP’s posts: |
grimweeper Sun 09-Aug-20 09:40:28

@Stinkyjellycat the link to the guidelines doesn't seem to work, it may have been removed, or if you can access it could you link separately? It would probably be useful for the OP too.

The introduction to the guidelines states that 75 percent of children made available for adoption are affected by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, whereas I had responded to a pp saying that it was a wider issue than we think due to BMs are not being honest.

Many thanks if you are able to link guidelines.

Stinkyjellycat Sun 09-Aug-20 09:45:26

www.sign.ac.uk/media/1092/sign156.pdf

www.sign.ac.uk/media/1145/pat156_fasd.pdf

minnieok Sun 09-Aug-20 09:56:14

Be aware that any child, adopted or birth child can have the typical issues those with fas have from others conditions, no alcohol exposure involved. I was actually asked when my dd was being diagnosed as she shared characteristics but I hadn't drunk in pregnancy at all (finally diagnosed as asd).

Do your homework but don't discount these kids. My cousins kids was exposed (I saw my cousins ex wife drinking a lot, we tried to get her help as she had a problem but refused) and as adults they aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer but both have jobs they are good at (mechanic and hairdresser), partners and one has a kid. Impulsive behaviour I would say is the number one issue they share, and being easily led when they were teens, the girl less so than the boy. How much is down to the alcohol is hard to say though as they led fairly chaotic childhoods, got better in teens when my cousin finally left her and got custody. Remember alcohol abuse doesn't happen in isolation.

user1479136681 Sun 09-Aug-20 10:09:00

This is true, any kid can have challenges. When you know of alcohol exposure, it's more likely but also means you can be more prepared.

OP if you haven't already, can you talk to the medical advisor? That's what we did and he told us everything about what signs to watch out for and how we could access support for our son. It was really helpful.

sadwithkiddies Sun 09-Aug-20 10:28:19

@twelvetinyfeet
Yes mine are siblings. They did not come together and there is a big gap. We knew before the first there was a risk, we didn't understand the implications beyond learning difficulties and eye problems.
With the next ones we were more invested because it was a sibling and we knew they probably had FASD. We had no idea that feeding problems could occur, and beyond fussy feeders they were not identified in fc. Both seemed to slip through the net until they came home. We are unusual I think though in that I've not met another tube feeder who says the reason is FASD.

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