Adopted daughter with FASD shares her struggles

This is a letter written by Stephanie Smith, whose real name is being held to protect her identity.

Her adoptive parents say they found out late in the process that she, along with her sister, had fetal alcohol syndrome.

Adopting FASD children needs to be more transparent, says Alberta couple

This 15-year-old girl was adopted by a Calgary couple after their three children had moved away. They say they found out she had FASD too late in the adoption process. (Chris Franklin/CBC)

I knew my life was different. Nobody seemed to understand, except for my family and my three BFFs.

Yes, I knew that I was slow in school, and understanding what my teacher was trying to explain, but I never knew I was slow because of a life-changing disability called FAS.

My mom had tried to explain to me what FAS was, but I never exactly understood it. After my mom explained it I would beg for her to repeat what she just said because I never really understood and I wanted to understand what was going on in my brain. But when my mom explained what causes FAS I caught on and immediately understood it.

After my mom explained how FAS works over 600 times I finally kind of understood it. I have brain damage caused by alcohol while I was still a fetus. The brain damage caused some parts of my brain to be undeveloped.

Now that I’m 15-years-old, and my mom has been talking to me every day about FAS since I got adopted (which was when I was 10-years-old), I finally have an idea of how my brain works. No, I probably never fully understand about FAS, but I think I’m content on what I know. 

In the beginning, I thought having FAS was a pain in the butt and that I wasn’t allowed to do anything. But in truth, I knew I couldn’t go on the internet because I had “stranger danger.” My mom was protecting me from harm.

At first I didn’t [accept] that. I was unable to do things other kids and teenagers could do. But after a while I forgot about it and moved on. Most people don’t think I have a disability because I don’t usually act like I have one and I certainly do not look like I have one.


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