Researching today to get a presentation together for tomorrow. It is always a good refresher. There is some great information out there. I always remind people to take each thing you read with a grain of salt until you confirm it (hey even my stuff!) Unfortunately FASD is still an area that is not studied the way it needs to be. I heard in a conference an expert say that due to the fact that it is not studied well a lot of the statistics are almost useless. I know that at times it feels that way. I mean you look at the incidence rate and it is very low. I think the problem is there is such a stigma about this disorder. There is so much blame.
I was recently at a function where I introduced myself as the mother to 9 FASD children, soon to be 10. Boy it got quiet fast. I know that afterwards I had a person come up to me who said “you know you really should make sure people understand that your kids are adopted.” Hmmm. Okay well I suppose that there may be some validity to that in some ways. I mean if I am speaking out against FASD and trying to get people to see how important it is not to drink while pregnant, it might be good if people didn’t think I was currently continuing to drink. But I guess here is the thing. I am trying to not make it an us and them thing. I don’t want to draw a big line and put the birth moms on one side and the adoptive moms on the other. See it isn’t about blame. We shouldn’t be looking for who “did it”. That isn’t what this is about. It is about trying to educate about an issue and what we can do about it.
FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, is 100% preventable. Yes, but that does not mean that when it happens the mom was a person who tried to harm her child. I have NEVER met a birth parent who set out to cause any harm to their child. Not ever. I have never met a “bad” birth mom. I have met women who were told to drink wine to calm their nerves. I have met brave women who have fought through addictions and come out the other side as fighters for their children who were affected. I admire these women so much. They live with pain. They live with a society who wants to blame. When FASD is present we need to stop looking at who “did it” and start looking at what can we do to help this person. What supports can we offer the child and the family? Let’s all stand up and not be afraid to talk about FASD. Let’s stop shaking our fingers at people as if we have any room to be sitting in judgement.
I feel like until we can move past blame FASD will never be studied effectively or receive the attention it needs. See if we cannot ask the questions that need asked without casting blame we will not get honest answers. If you knew you would be judged, hated or yelled at would you give the true answer? Well I think if we are honest the answer would be no. So how many women will be honest with their doctors about whether their child’s behavior issues are related to prenatal alcohol exposure if they know that they will be judged and possibly punished. There are states where they want to pass laws that will punish the mother if a child is FASD. I feel like in some ways this may cause more harm. See now even less parents will be honest about it. I am really hoping that we will think about what the real issues here are and look at what we can do to support families dealing with FASD. What we can do to continue to raise awareness and help to further the gathering of scientific data so that funding will be more readily available for research.