Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survivors: January Spotlight

I am starting my series on Survivors. There are so many great people out there that have encouraging stories to tell. We all have gone through things in our adult lives that required us to make the choice to become a victim or a survivor. No story is more important than others because we all need encouragement in different ways. In this series you will see people who have made the hard choice to become a survivor. I hope you are encouraged by their stories and are filled with hope.

I feel that it is so important to share the story of my parents. They have survived so much and have been an inspiration to me and others around them. 

When my mom was in her early 30s she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was caught early but she was faced with the decision of having the surgery to get rid of it and be done having kids or wait until she was done having kids and then have the surgery. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to hear that news and then make that decision, but some how she did. Since they had three kids already having the surgery seemed to be the better option

 A few years later both my parents felt something missing and decided to pursue adoption of a little boy around 3 or 4. They looked into kids with different special needs knowing that those children had the hardest time finding families. After many difficulties and frustrations they gave up on the idea. 

Years went by and my parents had a 14, 13, and 9 year old and we were fine, had our own routine, and hadn't thought about adopting in a long time. Because of close friends, my parents decided to become foster parents. Before they were even licensed for foster care they received a call about a baby that was to be born in about a month and would be immediately taken from the mother. This would be her third baby and was not mentally able to care for this child. If my parents took the baby, they were asked to do so with the possibility of adoption. After talking and praying about it my parents decided they would foster this baby. 

July 17, 1999 a beautiful little red headed girl was born. Three days later she arrived at our house. We all loved on her so much. The day she arrived was the day she became part of our family in our hearts. 

As the months went by my mom started to notice that things were not normal with this baby. She cried all the time, had problems with her immune system and digestive system, was not gaining weight, had to be taught how to crawl, along with many other problems. There was very little that my parents could do until she had some sort of diagnosis but she first had to become legally ours. 

In March of 2001 she legally became part of our family. At that point my parents were able to start looking at what was really going on with my little sister. A few months later we finally knew the truth. Her birth mom drank a lot of alcohol while she was pregnant. My little sister had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which is now known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It is not reversible, there is no way to fix it. She has severe brain damage most similar to a child who is shaken. The damage is irreverasable and 100% preventable.

After getting this news, our family had to take some time to grieve. It changed everything. Now this little girl who captured our hearts would have a life of frustration, confusion, and hardship. Nothing would be easy for her and as the months went on the realization that she would forever be a child began to set in.  

The grieving process started over again and has continued and will continue. Hopes and dreams of your child are dead when you realize that they will never do most of what you dreamed for them to do. You spend your days grieving for a child lost and in many ways can be worse than losing a child. There is no finality or closure when you experience dream after dream, experience after experience not ever meeting your expectations. Your child is not normal and will never do normal things. You will always be a caregiver and never have the chance to be a friend. 

My mom took her grief as an opportunity to become very informed about FASD and start informing others. In the years that followed she became involved in support groups, visited a few high school classrooms to speak on the subject of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, and became an advocate for my sister in the school. Becoming a survivor was a necessity for my mom especially. If she hadn't, our family wouldn't have been able to deal with the devastation that FASD can bring to a family.

Children with FASD may have a variety of symptoms including mental retardation, behavior problems, mental disorders, poor immune systems, inability to understand social issues, and many more symptoms. 

For more information on FASD check out

If you have a story you would like to tell please contact me at I would love to have you be a guest blogger for my survivor series.

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