More Alphabet Soup
When we received our adoption referral back in 2007, it was documented that birthmom in Russia drank alcohol during pregnancy. In fact, it seems birthmom drank a lot. So much so that one of our fab four was actually born intoxicated.
Armed with their pictures and their social history, we did a little research and, at the suggestion of our adoption agency, sent our referral to the Seattle Children's Hospital to have one of their experts on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome review the information and give us a professional opinion. While none of our kids presented with the facial and other physical features necessary to diagnose FAS, the doctor who reviewed our info did tell us to always be on the lookout for the long-term effects. She told us that some of these effects may not present themselves until school-age, in ways such as learning disabilities, ADHD, language delays...and the list goes on.
It is crystal clear to me that right now we are in the throes of those long-term effects.
Since Orlando, FASD has become part of my everyday alphabet soup/research/obsession.
At the recommendation of one of my Sweet Home lovelies, I bought the book Trying Differently Rather Than Harder by Diane Malbin. This book has changed the way I look at and parent my kids.
It has also made me angry.
As if the trauma of severe neglect, malnutrition, abuse, and orphanage living weren't enough, my kids now have to go through life with an invisible disability. Their brains are messed up and there's nothing I can do to change that.
In utero, alcohol passes through the placenta and pickles the brain. Pickles.the.brain. It kills brain cells. Period. So while my kids don't look it, they are disabled. They can't read well. They can't process things quickly. They can't control their impulses. They literally can't "act their age." As the book says, "They are ten second kids in a one second world." Spot on. No wonder they are frustrated. No wonder they are anxious. No wonder they are angry. No wonder they act out.
The book also made me angry at myself. I can't tell you how many times I have said, "Why don't you just listen?" "Why are you taking so long?" "Can't you just sit still?" "Why don't you follow directions?" "Why are you so angry?"
If only life had do-overs.
But once we know better we do better, right?
Ken and I have done a lot of good in the past 5 years. I can proudly say that our kids are, for the most part, beautifully attached (well, except for Marina) and I am beyond grateful for that. But as the kids grow, the game changes, and as the game changes, our parenting has to, too.
Once I finished this book I had a good cry. I cried for my kids and the struggles they face and will continue to face for the rest of their lives. I cried because sometimes being their Mom is just so.damn.hard. After my good cry, I let it go. It is what it is and we are where we are. I try my best not to continually feel sorry for them. I believe that pity does not serve them well.
I am getting educated on Fetal Alchol Spectrum Disorders and I am changing the way I parent. It's exciting, actually, because while I had no influence over their pre-natal care, I have total influence over their lives now and moving forward.
Being their Mom is the ultimate challenge and the highest honor.
So bring it on, FASD.
I have knowledge. And I have more than 100 powerful women who now have my back.
I am ready.
- Christie (who blogs at Zukorville)