"Two years ago we adopted a child of six. We have found parenting him far more difficult than we ever expected, or were prepared for. He has not really settled down and we find his behaviour very demanding. My husband and I are in despair. We don’t know what to do or where to turn."
Drug and alcohol exposure
Methamphetamine is by no means a new drug, but concern is growing steadily along with the usage statistics about the form known as crystal meth.
This powerful story was the keynote speech at Growing Together: a retreat for parents of persons with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in January 2010.
Hi, my name is Nicolas. First of all, I’d like to thank the organizers of this retreat for asking me here to share with you. I’d also like to thank and welcome all the parents and families for being here today.
Most parents shy away from adopting children with special needs. Here we meet parents who actually want to.
When I interviewed Carrie Hohnstein, mom of 11 children, I probed for quotes that might offer hints of the constant drama and stress that I assumed was an inevitable feature of her life.
There were slim pickings. Carrie just isn’t a dramatic person. She’s calm, thoughtful, and unflappable—qualities which are probably central to her success as a parent in a large family.
Five years ago Sophie Perkins* was an empty nester in her fifites with a busy career. She had no idea that she was soon to become a full-time mother again.
Though Sophie knew that her daughter-in-law and son weren’t parenting their children adequately, as she lived some distance from the family, she didn’t have a full grasp of the situation. Her son and daughter-in-law made great efforts to appear as though they lived relatively "normal" lives.
"Are we scaring you?" the facilitator asked me in a very concerned voice.
"Not at all," I lied.
My husband and I had recently brought home a sibling group of two, both of whom had been prentally exposed to alcohol and drugs. Despite all the reading and education we had done in advance, nothing prepared me for the reality of an FASD support group meeting.
Many of the parents were over 50 and most had adopted their kids when very little was known about FASD; some were parenting grandchildren who had been diagnosed with FASD.
The Asante Centre, located in Maple Ridge, was started three and a half years ago by Dr Kojo Asante who worked in Northern BC for many years and became a pioneer researcher in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through his work in Aboriginal communities. Asante provides assessments for people affected by FASD, a term that describes a range of disorders and effects that can occur in a person whose mother used alcohol while pregnant.
This information applies to any individual who is functionally dependent on others in some specific areas, and who does not learn from correction, or who does not “get” why people are distressed with their behavior.
Parents, teachers and support persons of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are sometimes faced with episodes of extreme behavior. The first instinct we all follow is to use “common sense” methods for controlling the disruptive behavior of any child.
The parents of biological children know their child’s prenatal history and most of what we might call their medical inheritance. Adoptive parents, even those who adopt “healthy newborns,” usually have far less information. They must take a leap of faith that all will be well and, that if the child has unexpected disabilities or challenges, that they will adapt and cope.
In a recent interview with a social worker with the Ministry for Children and Family Development, it was stated that the majority of children in care of the Ministry are there because of parental drug and alcohol use. Hair, urine, and meconium testing is becoming more and more influential in child custody cases and when the Ministry is determining whether children should be returned or removed from the home.