Diary of an Adoptive Mom #35


Diary Mom
Focus on Adoption magazine

In the 35th of our series, our mom finally receives a diagnosis for her daughter--and it’s not the one she’s expecting.

We just got the results from the assessment that was done on Lynn. I’m really conflicted about the information in that report.

Should I feel good about the fact that my suspicions about her challenges proved correct? I sort of do, which is probably not the right thing to feel, and it’s a hollow feeling to be right about it. I was hoping that perhaps I would be completely wrong, but that as a parent I had done everything right. If I had been way off track, I honestly think that would have done me in completely. But there’s no glory in being right, either.

It was also really frustrating to sit there in the feedback session around a boardroom table with the psychiatrist, the pediatrician, the psychologist, the FASD key worker, and several other practicum students who all knew what the report said. I felt really intimidated, and I’m not normally easily intimidated. I felt I was being judged as a mother, and not measuring up to what a “good” mother should be.

And yet, right there in the report it says, “She has clearly benefited from a very supportive home environment.” Do they really think this, or is it just something they put in every report?

“Lynn is a delightful girl, who has learning challenges, and has experienced attachment injury at a young age. She was cooperative during assessment and presented as a child younger than her age.”

Nothing new there--she’s always cooperative when she’s one on one with an adult female. How come they don’t try this assessment in her classroom, surrounded by other kids, and tons of distractions?

“Lynn is a vulnerable child, who is sensitive to perceptions of being different, rejected, or abandoned by others. Working on anxiety-related issues, and building assertiveness and confidence, could assist her. She was described as having an early history of possible neglect and, like many children with such a history, struggles with issues around food intake and excessive eating."

See, I knew all this stuff already, but when I see it written down, or said to me by a professional, I feel like it’s all my fault because I haven’t been able to fix it. I know I can’t fix it, but it feels like I should have been able to.

And here’s the final diagnosis: “ADHD (inattentive type) and Anxiety Disorder, not otherwise specified. Although her birth mother used alcohol, she does not appear to demonstrate significant effects.”

I’m in shock. Not significantly affected by alcohol? What!

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Every aspect of FASD fits her. We have documented proof birthmom used alcohol. Her behaviours, her inability to learn from consequences, her inability to predict, her lack of understanding of abstract concepts--all fit with FASD. And now they say it isn’t FASD? What does that mean? All the professionals are sitting there looking at us with smiles on their faces, waiting for us to jump up with joy. Isn’t it great news?

I’m stunned. ADHD and anxiety disorder? That’s it? So where is the explanation for all these other behaviors? Oh, and by the way, her IQ is in the high end of average.

So let’s be clear on this--she can, and does understand consequences--she can predict what will happen, given a set of circumstances--she understands abstract concepts.

I’m at a loss as to know how to respond to all this “wonderful” news. After all this time of thinking of her as a child with FASD, now I’m supposed to just switch that button off, and think of her as a child with anxiety and ADHD only? As a parent, how do I do that? That’s been her whole identity and role in our family, and my role as her mom. Up until now I was the parent of a child with a brain injury. And now I’m not.

So now what do I do?