A fresh perspective…

When going through the adoption process, we were often asked to put ourselves in the shoes of our prospective future children and to empathise with the reasons they may be put up for adoption. The key was to get an understanding of their experiences past, present and future.

It brought back some things that I’d not thought about for years, and others that I’d never even considered as having had an impact on my life.

Fast forward a year or two and through counselling for my depression I’m now finding myself bringing up memories that I’d long since forgotten. Memories and feelings that give a whole new perspective on how I’ve got to where I am today.

I was lucky to have had a warm, secure, supportive upbringing from birth, but it seems there have still been moments and feelings that have shaped how I am.  As a child (fat and clever with glasses – just the red hair missing), being bullied and teased brought overwhelming feelings and on occasion a desire for the world to end. As an adult, I can empathise with those who carried out the bullying and teasing, or at least hypothesise about how their situation made them do so.

By starting to do that, I wonder whether I might get closure and be able to move forwards in life without some of the insecurities I have. At the very least, thinking about these things and bringing back forgotten feelings gives me a chance to put myself in my sons shoes and do my best to help him cope with all life throws at him.

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My number one (s)

​I’ve had my concerns
and my worries.
Am i good enough
To father our boy?
Who brought so much
Laughter and joy.

I’m feeling lucky today.
He says I’m the best,
You said it too.
But really you are,
My boy and you

The expert in the room

Wouldn’t it be nice if each child had an expert who knew them inside out and who was able to call on other experts to help overcome adverse situations?

How good would it be that when that expert asked, the right services would be provided for the child?

A bit too much too ask?

OK, being more realistic, how about the other experts paying just the smallest bit of attention to the expert on the child?

Unfortunately that is often not the case when that child has FASD, or so it seems in our case.

If you have a diagnosis of diabetes, you get the relevant treatment from the moment you’re diagnosed.

If you suffer from impaired eyesight or hearing steps are taken to rectify it.

Heck, even a potentially hidden illness like depression gets some action following a diagnosis.

So many diagnoses with so many possible treatments and a system set up to deal with them.

But throw in a diagnosis of FASD and things aren’t as quick to kick in.

I am beginning to realise/understand why, but that doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow.

There is still very little known about FASD. The long term impact on an individual is uncertain – and is very much dependent on the individual circumstances.

That is why it is so important for medical/education/political/legal experts to listen to the true professionals – those tasked with raising children who have FASD and those who have FASD.

Being a parent of a child with FASD is immensely rewarding – he is so incredibly resilient, despite medical appointments being more frequent than any child should have to face. I sincerely hope that his life can be a success story – that we as parents can prepare him to be happy and independent in later life.

We are fortunate though – our son was diagnosed at an early age so a lot of uncertainty and fighting to get a diagnosis has been dealt with already. We now face a potential challenge to help those tasked with his care/health/education to fully understand what he may or may not be capable of, to identify ways his learning style may differ from neurotypical children of the same age.

A lot is said in the press and on social media about what is and isn’t safe to drink whilst pregnant. I wouldn’t change my son for the world, but I’d implore anyone contemplating drinking whilst trying to conceive or whilst pregnant to think again. Spend some time talking to parents raising children with FASD as well as those children, and you will find that however rewarding it can be, some of the obstacles thrown in their way are unnecessary and so easy to avoid.

9 September was international FASD awareness day. Please don’t let it be for just one day.