Monday, February 14, 2011

And So It Begins

This is not a post on situational anxiety in adoption. I need a break!

Today we made it through the first part of an evaluation for Hope for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I say "made it through" because I was anxious. (I know: ironic.) If you could hear my self talk, you would have heard me perseverating, "It is a medical diagnosis. It is a medical diagnosis. It is a medical diagnosis."

Kids like Joy get cerebral palsy when bleeding in the brain kills brain cells. Kids like Hope get FASD when alcohol in the brain kills brain cells. Joy was probably born with a typical brain (although very premature at 27 weeks); her brain damage occurred in the first few weeks after her birth. By the time Hope was 27 weeks gestational age, the brain damage was already done. She was born full-term and stunningly beautiful with the invisible birth defects that cause FASD.

The crazy truth is this: while we were "open" to almost everything else, we were trying to avoid two things: the condition known at that time as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and ADHD. We were waiting specifically for the referral of a waiting child, one with known special needs. We filled out a checklist asking if we were open to mild, moderate or severe levels of various needs. I felt so much guilt over checking "mild" for exposure to alcohol, thinking it elitist to be open to a child who was missing limbs, but to close our hearts to a child whose mother drank. What kind of faith is that?

We made that decision out of self-knowledge: my husband and I are both introverts. We thrive on peace in our home and harmony in relationships. So it just made (human) sense that we would not be a good match for a child with boundless energy, who doesn't sleep, is unpredictable, emotionally labile, and consistently provocative.


The intake form startled me. Not that it was nine pages long. Between our adoptions, Katie's infancy, and Joy's cerebral palsy, I'm an experienced paper worker. It startled me because it was the only form I've ever filled out that presumed the child in question was adopted. The first form to presume a child came to their family with history. And the first to recognize that history mattered.

Know what that makes the typical intake form? The embodiment of that worn out idea that nurture trumps nature. That love is a miracle cure.

It was also sad to be faced with the truth. Even though it had nothing to do with Hope's first mother's decision to place her for adoption, most kids with FASD are not being raised by their birth parents.


The testing itself was very simple. We were at the clinic a total of three hours. The Dr. (PhD) and I spent about 20 minutes talking. Then I took a pile of inventories (Vineland, BASC, and Executive Function) to the lobby to fill out while Hope and the doctor "played" (Hope's word) for about two hours total, broken by one break for a snack and several coloring breaks between sections of the neurodevelopmental exam.

Next step is to take her to another doctor for a physical exam. The second doctor will report to the first doctor, who will write a report, call my husband and I in to discuss a draft, then write a final report. At the rate this is going, it will have taken five to six months to get to a diagnosis.


God must have chuckled when He made sure our name was attached to Hope's referral in Korea and passed it on to our agency. Yes: God knew exactly what we wanted and He purposefully gave us something else. It wasn't because His hands were tied. It wasn't because He was napping on the rare occasions her mom accepted the offered glass of soju.

God knew exactly what was happening and even though He could have stopped it, He allowed it. God is faithful. He takes people to the cross every day.


Megan said...

Thanks, Carrie! This was so good for me to read this morning. I could echo your words about thriving on peace in our home and some days I find myself so shaken by this place of chaos we find ourselves. It is a good, necessary, and Biblical reminder to know God is sovereign, sufficient, and present with us in this every day. Thank you!

Rick and Heather said...

Thank you for this post..and reminder of God's wonderful sovereignty which we also embrace while we raise a little guy from Korea who had heavy alcohol exposure in utero. To God be the glory :)

Tracy said...

God is Faithful...
He made our children for a purpose. He has a plan for our children.
We may never understand why, but there is a reason.
God is Faithful...
I have to hold on to that each day!