This article is part of our Summer 2020 Breaking Barriers. This installment focuses on parents of loved ones living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder coming to grips with the realities of this unexpected, difficult, lifelong disability that was unknown two generations ago. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a disability that has been labeled formally since only the 1970s. This spectrum of disorders can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Often, a person with FASD may have low body weight, hyperactivity, attention deficits, memory issues, learning disabilities, poor reasoning and judgment, impulse control, and difficulties with learning from consequences, among others. While there is no cure, today there are early intervention programs and community support systems that should be accessed for an individual’s lifespan.
Soliciting articles for this issue was so difficult that we went outside our usual RCA-CRC readership to secure what’s published here. One RCA shared with us about her son, adopted in the 1960s as an infant from a young, church-going mom who used alcohol during pregnancy. The son, now in his 50s, disappeared for weeks at a time growing up, caused tremendous heartache for his adoptive parents, still feels a sense of ultimate rejection by his birth mother, and remains dependent on his adoptive mother for managing his finances. Happily, he is committed to his Christian faith and lives a faith filled life.
Most articles in this issue tell of the hurt and pain families went through raising their children in the 1980s, when little was known about the disorder. In all cases, these families opened their hearts and their homes, adopting children they did not realize had FASD. Their experiences are heart-wrenching, and we lament with them. Sadly, some are still unable to share their stories in church or other public settings. As with all disabilities or differences, we long for our churches to become supportive communities where everybody belongs and everybody serves.