Saturday, August 18, 2012

Would I do it all again? Will you be surprised at the answer?

I have been hoping to find other parents that blog about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) so that I could learn from their experiences. I love to share what has worked and has not worked with my kids so others might benefit from my experiences, as well. It can save a lot of time when you are not “reinventing the wheel” and when many minds are looking at the same problems, there are often many solutions offered that one person alone might not have thought to try. At the very least, I thought finding other bloggers who are willing to share, would help me to see that others are surviving FAS and I will too. Encouragement is what I need the most to keep on doing what needs to be done. Sydney is a lot of work and I sometimes get discouraged. Last night I found a blog called “When Rain Hurts” written by the mother of a boy named Peter, adopted from Russia. He has FAS and his parents have been through far more than we have.  She is a brilliant writer and her blog is going to be published as a book. The link is

I found Sydney had many things in common with Peter and I have many things in common with his mother. She said she was left feeling inadequate after reading many books about autism and adoption. I am often left wondering if some authors are being truly honest when they say they have completely accepted what they cannot change or that they embrace their child’s disability and would not change anything. Then I suffer extreme guilt because I CANNOT feel that way about my own children and their disabilities.  I do not embrace autism or ADHD or FAS. I HATE autism, ADHD and FAS. I would do almost ANYTHING to change those things about my children and we have worked hard to minimize the symptoms of these disabilities. We spend a lot of money on medications that help and a lot of time on interventions.  I am not bitter but I hate the disabilities my children have. I can see the people they would have been without their disabilities and the adults they will become because of their disabilities. It is frightening to think about the things they will struggle with, the friends they will and will not have, and the kind of care they will receive when I can no longer care for them.

I have read many books about autism and met many parents of children with autism in the past few years. Several of them say that they would change nothing about their child because the disability is part of what makes them who they are. I have a hard time understanding that. I would do anything, give anything, or give up everything if I could “cure” Tate’s autism or Sydney’s FAS. One mother, who told me she would not eliminate her son’s autism even if she could do so, had her son enrolled in a very expensive discrete trial program at the time. Did she want to minimize the disability that she had just told me she cherished as part of who her son was? I had to bite my tongue hard that time. See my  post called: Celebrate Autism? for more about this. 

Once in a while people ask me if I would do it all over again. Would I still adopt Sydney? Honestly, I think I would. I think I would because I love her with all my heart. I think I would because I cannot bear to think about where she would be or what she would be doing if she were still in Russia. I think I would because she has a soul and I want to teach her about God and His plan so she can go to Heaven. I fear that someday my answer will change. I've read that thirty percent of people in prison had birth mothers who drank. That scares me. If a person has brain damage that keeps them from being able to make good decisions, how are they to obey laws? If a person has little or no impulse control, how can they be kept safe? 

No one has ever asked me the same question about Tate, perhaps because he is not adopted. If I could turn back the clock, would I still have planned one more baby, the year before Tate was born? No, I would not have. There, I said it.  I would not have conceived a baby, knowing he would have autism. Autism has drained me emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. Having said that and before the hate mail starts pouring in: I adore Tate. My world revolves around Tate. I am not a patient person, but I almost never lose my patience with Tate. He brings out the best in me. He gives me a lot of happiness and he has taught me a lot of things. Although I have been drained in many ways, Tate and autism have helped me to grow spiritually. I see things much differently than I used to and I am a much better person than I was before Tate was born. The main reason I would not have purposely conceived a baby knowing he would have autism doesn’t have as much to do about what autism has done to me, as it has to do with what autism has done to Tate. I see him struggle to fit in and know he will never be able to understand the world around him.    

I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  The phrase “Everything happens for a reason” is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. God does not give people autism and God does not cause women to drink so their babies will be born with a lifelong handicap. That whole idea is absurd. It is true that we can make the best of a bad situation and grow stronger because of it but there is no divine reason a child is born with a handicap. (My "rule" #11.)
None of the above thoughts or feelings really matters in the end. Both kids are here. Both kids are mine. Both kids are handicapped. Both kids are loved. Both kids bring me and others so much joy. I really do love my life. 

We have seen so many good things happening. We didn’t know how much progress Sydney could make and she has already overcome some of the problem behaviors we worried the most about. Something that concerned us a lot when Sydney was a toddler was her inability to differentiate between family/friends and strangers. She was completely comfortable in the presence of a crowd of unfamiliar faces and she sought the attention of complete strangers. Long after she should have bonded with us, she would reach for people in stores, wanting to be held. I knew if someone had picked her up and walked away with her she would have never looked back. She would not have missed us at all. She did not seem to understand where she belonged or that she needed me. Anyone could step in and take care of her needs and she would not have noticed her mother was not around. I’m not sure when she finally understood or cared who she was with. It probably happened very gradually and I was too busy worrying to notice. In my opinion, her attachment took far longer than it should have but it finally has happened. She is too trusting still but she does now have the same kind of reactions my other children would have had in new settings or around unfamiliar faces. She even acts shy occasionally and that is not something we would have seen when she was a toddler or a preschooler.

I’ll end with a couple of my favorite Sydney-isms from this week. On the way to school, Sydney saw a dog beside the road. She said "Mom, on your way back home, stop and ask that dog what it is doing." (Yes, she was serious.) The same morning, right before we left home she asked her dad "How much is 36 minus 6?" He said "30". Sydney replied "Nope 240. That one must be too hard for you Dad." 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see a more current one about these two great kids, click this link: Mommies Don't Give Their Kids Away.

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  1. I like you ,would change it if we could. Even if it meant they were not ours,,,,I would give any thing for them to be OK.

    1. Spoken like a parent who loves their child more than they love themselves. Thanks for the comment.

  2. You just want what is best for your kids. And you want to give them a happy life on top of that free of extra worries and burdens. And most importantly you want to know they will survive without you. Having never been in your shoes or anything that even slightly resembles what you deal with, it all seems perfectly natural just like any other mom. Just because Sydney and Tate are "special needs" does not make them any less of who they are and how they impact the world in ways you and they will never know. They are truly gifts. Gifts that might require a determination to work with, but gifts nonetheless.

    1. That was eloquently said. Thank you. I appreciate your insight and your encouragement.