There’s No Running Away from the Loss Every Adopted Child with FASD Feels

@FASD_Mom talks about her experience with her adopted son with FASD.  She talks about the everyday struggles, questions, challenges, and most importantly acceptance of her son’s condition.  While this mom questions the choices made by the birth mom of this child, she does not blame her for she doesn’t know what lead her to those choices.

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By @FASD_Mum

He was asleep.

I was typing in the dark, listening to the Mozart he puts on when he is seriously ready to sleep (as opposed to the endless Seven Super Girls YouTube videos or the various Little Mix albums he escapes into during the quiet evenings in his bedroom).  I had just been scrolling through Facebook one-handed while rubbing his heels and feet and scratching his calf according to his very specific directions.  He told me he loves me.  I know he loves me.

I knew he loved me earlier that day as he was running away from home too – about 50 meters ahead of me and barefoot.  This was the third time in a week that he ventured out like this, his frustrations breaking the previous boundary of the front door.  This time he went the furthest, storming away, around the corner.  My husband and I were not far behind him, though our minds were travelling years ahead.  We were scared, thinking of all those stories we read about of older kids with FASD who take off – their frustrations running far beyond their reasoning regarding safety.  If we got too close to him, it propelled him further away, so we hung back.

He eventually stopped – a siren and some sudden traffic slowed him down.  I told him to stay where he was so I could help him cross the road safely.  He waited, torn between his instinct for flight and his insecurity.  We finally made contact, and side by side we crossed the road and headed toward home, my husband trailing behind us, ready to help if need be.

That’s when our little one started a new conversation:

“I don’t belong in this family.  I don’t belong here.”

“I want to find the woman whose tummy I was in.  I love her.  I should be with her.”

“She should love me.”

“I belong with her, not you.”

And there it was.  The conversation I knew we would have at some point, even if I was not expecting it at that particular moment when our resilience was low, after all the upheaval, chaos (and fun) of our recent holiday, a visit from overseas relatives, and simmering concerns regarding the upcoming start of school.

“You are right.  She did love you.  But she knew she couldn’t look after you.  She wanted you to have a good home.”

“You always will be a part of this family.  I love you no matter what.”

“I want you to be safe.  I don’t want you to walk away like that.”

“We are a family.  We can solve our problems.”

“It’s okay if sometimes you feel frustrated.  It won’t always be like this.  Someday you’ll be better able to handle how you feel.”

And then ten minutes later, back home, he wanted me to be with him when he was upstairs, when he was outside.  Where ever he was, he wanted me near – the running away was forgotten and my maternal back scratching duties resumed.  This is not unlike the early days, when he wanted me all to himself – biting and kicking at others to be sure I was with him only.  Is it regression? Is it because I am not reassuring him enough?

This other woman, wherever she is, is missing out on a remarkable young being.  It would be easy to be bitter and angry toward her, but I am not.  I feel a great sadness that he has an emptiness inside of him that I will never be able to fill, I would never try to fill.  I wish she had been able to look after herself better, that she had been able to better protect him while he grew inside her womb.  I hate that her alcohol seared its way into his future in ways I doubt she ever understood. I hate that he spent those first days critically ill, fighting alone in this cruel world, abandoned in a hospital, crying without comfort.  Nothing I do or say will ever, ever fill those days, those weeks, those months, that nearly year-and-a-half when a tired and overburdened system did its best – inadequate as it was – to keep him healthy.

During our adoption process, we came across a couple of helpful books that I pulled off of the shelf again after this long day – they are not about FASD, but they reminded me that being adopted is complicated enough, let alone with the added challenges of FASD on top of it all.

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Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

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