Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There are four main factors that play into whether a fetus is impacted by alcohol that their mother drinks.  They are:

  • Mother's metabolism and diet
  • Fetus's resiliency
  • Timing of exposure
  • Amount of alcohol
There is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  As many have said before, drinking while pregnant is like playing Russian roulette with your child.  It is a huge risk to take.  It truly breaks my heart that women are still drinking while pregnant while their doctors are advising that a glass of wine a day or an occasional drink is OK.  It is not.  It is not OK to take that risk with your child.  

It also breaks my heart for women who have an addiction to alcohol and are pregnant.  If you have a true addiction, merely being pregnant is more than likely not enough to get you to stop drinking.  And then there are the women that are partying hard before they know they are pregnant.  What an "oh crap" moment that has to be.  I am not being judgemental when I write this, just stating the facts.  

It seems that there are three main type of situations where a child is prenatally exposed to alcohol.
  1. The woman who is an alcoholic
  2. The woman who thinks (sometimes with medical advise), that occasional and light drinking is OK
  3. The woman who drinks before they know they are pregnant
I'm sure there are other situations, but these seem to me to be the main three.  We do know that heavy consumption will more than likely have a greater effect on the fetus, causing more brain damage.  But we also know, that there are cases of women who did some fairly heavy drinking and their babies turned out OK.  It is just such a risk.  Have I said that yet?  It is a risk.

I have four adopted children.  All four of them were prenatally exposed to alcohol.  I did not really realize this until this past summer.  I obviously have known for awhile that Akila has FASD.  Before we figured that out when she was 6, I did not know much about FASD.  I only knew of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and thought that you had to have facial features and a low IQ to have FAS.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.  Many people still think this.

This past summer, Zeke was having some rheumotological issues.  I needed to dig up his paperwork from birth.  Of course, I know Akila's like the back of my hand, but the other 3 kids, I remember bits and pieces, but not all the details.  Part of this is that Akila was our first child.  We had more time and energy to remember facts, and all that stuff.  

I had a very difficult time finding Zeke's paperwork.  We had moved into a new house (the one we are currently in), and he was a sick preemie and this is around the time when Akila started to be somewhat challenging.  Life was crazy.  Paperwork got shoved places it shouldn't.  I was able to find Imani and Hezekiah's paperwork though.  I read through it.  My mouth was hitting the floor as I saw that both of their birth moms had admitted to using alcohol during pregnancy.  Finally at the end of the summer, I found Zeke's paperwork, and saw that he had been exposed to alcohol also.

These facts had been disclosed to us, but it didn't matter.  They were our children, all four of them.  We knew it in our hearts instantly, before we even met them.  I am so glad that God had us say yes to each one of them.  He had a plan.  He has a plan.

This should not have been too shocking to me, as the rates of FASD are pretty high in the adoption world.  I think I was partly shocked by the fact that I didn't remember.  But it shouldn't shock me, FASD was not really on my radar back then.  I thought that there would need to be an admittance of heavy drinking and risky behaviors to have it be an issue.

Now that I know a lot more about FASD, I am amazed at God's hand in our family.  My kids are awesome kids, all four of them.  They are all doing the best they can, and I am proud of them.  We had conferences this week, and they are all doing great.  Hezekiah is in 4th grade and reading at a 9th grade level.  Imani has all A's and one B.  Zeke is rocking in 3rd grade.  Akila has been doing well academically, even considering her learning disabilities.  She has been engaged at school, and genuinely wants to learn, and seems to really enjoy it.

We have 3 kids who are really well behaved, and 1 who is trying her best to behave within her limitations.  Yes, we are struggling, and I mean really struggling.  Things on the home front are as out of control as ever, and as I have been writing, we are needing to change the living situation.  But... our kids are amazing.  God's hand in protecting them all is glorious.

I have mentioned before how Akila had to fight to live.  She also has Turner Syndrome and 98% of all fetuses with Turner Syndrome spontaneously abort.  Not only did she have that odd against her, but she was bathing in alcohol in her birth mom's womb.  Some may ask where God was while she was struggling in the womb.  He was there.  He gave her the strength to survive, and He gave her birth mom the wisdom to give her up.  And |He destined her to be ours.  For that, I am thankful.

I don't want people to think it is OK to drink while prego, since I have 3 kids who were exposed and seem unharmed by the exposure.  We will never know what potential was taken away.  Maybe Hezekiah would be reading at a 12th grade level without the exposure.  Maybe Imani would have straight A's, or need to be taking high school math.  Maybe Zeke wouldn't perseverate on candy all day every day.  :)  Exposure is a dangerous thing, and one I would discourage anyone from doing to their child.


mindfulness said...

This is interesting to me on a personal level. When I adopted my 17 year old as an infant, the only thing I specified that I was wary of was FAS. I am a special educator and I had seen the effects of this. I was completely open to "crack" (crack babies were in the media) and heroin exposure because knew the truth about this. But FAS scared me.

I remember reading my beautiful daughter's records after she was home. Daily crack cocaine exposure from conception to birth. Tested positive at birth. Then the red flags. NO prenatal care at all. And some alcohol exposure...the hospital birthmom interview was unclear about whether it was a 6 pack a day or a six pack a week. What a difference!

My daughter has two of the most common effects of cocaine exposure: ADHD and language processing delays.

Now I have 3 kids adopted at ages 7, 9 and 10. They are above grade level like your kids. But they lack common sense and life is a daily challenge. I don't know about prenatal exposure except that their birthmom was a "partier". I wonder though.

Marebear said...

Have you read the blog "when rain hurts"? Her son also has fasd and they recently had to put him in a home.