MISSION-ADOPT

My Foster Care Adoption Story

Category: Newborn drug exposure

Baby Ring Bearer

Baby Ring Bearer

Charlie’s first job

As an 18 month old Charlie did what any small child did in an unfamiliar new workplace. He screamed his head off. He was having no part of his cousin Tori’s wedding. But, I think this was totally a small child thing.

Charlie is now almost 19 months and he is showing no signs of meth side effects. He is as normal an 18 month old as they come. Running, jumping, babbling, screaming, throwing fits, and being sweet as can be and devilish in the same minute. I can hope he will be ok. And that is what I am setting my mind with now. He is just fine.

 

Foster care training

How to effectively listen – a foster care training

Last fall I attended a foster care training called….

How to Talk So Everyone Will Listen

“Talking, listening and setting effective boundaries are essential skills for parents. This type of communication becomes even more valuable when the parent is dealing with individuals who have experienced significant emotional trauma. Participants will learn communication skills and ways to provide consequences relevant to the behavior.”

That was the description for this foster care training.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this training, because most of them are not relevant to my story. But this class was really informative and all around great. The basic principal is to really just listen to your child. If they are mad or sad or fustrated, listen to what their feelings are. Don’t immediately tell them to brush it off or it’s no big deal. Listen first and then say, “I am sure that made you feel bad that that happened. You must have got your feelings hurt”, or whatever the case may be. Show them you are really listening to what they are saying by repeating back to them what they have said and sympathizing. You probably can’t fix what has happened, but they can be heard and acknowledged. And a lot of times that is all people and children want, is someone to listen and know you understand and are truly hearing them. In the case of a child, often this will lead to trust and more information and eventually the root of the problem. This will help children and anyone for that matter feel like they have been heard and understood. Sometimes that can be the most important thing to a child.

In the case of a foster child with a lot of difficult emotions this can really help to break through with them. I have not personally fostered a child old enough to need this, but I know many people who have. Lots of children in the foster system have been exposed to things most adults wouldn’t even want to know about. All children and especially foster children need to feel like someone is listening. It might as well start with you.

http://www.ifapa.org/training/ifapa-training-schedule.asp

This is a schedule of the trainings offered by IFAPA in Iowa.

My 18 month old baby born to meth exposure

Being born to meth exposure was a rough start for Charlie.

The first 6 months with meth side effects were awful. Meth exposure on an unborn child is detrimental. But that was a whole year ago.

Charlie is busy. Since the minute he was mobile he has been so busy. He gets into everything. He tears everything up and moves onto the next thing. Anything he can grab he will. It goes in his mouth, it gets thrown on the floor and smashed. He is the king of destruction. I like to call it re – arranging. Every minute all day long that he is awake it is exhausting. You have to watch him every second to keep him from getting hurt or into something he shouldn’t be into. I think this is probably just typical of a busy toddler. But because he is a meth exposed baby, I always wonder just a little bit, is he normal?

When he is not feeling good with a cold, or tummy ache or cutting teeth, he is awful. He is the worst person to be with when he isn’t well. He screams and cries and whines and fusses every minute. It’s enough to make a mom go bonkers. But most days are good. He is a happy, well adjusted, and confident one year and 1/2 old toddler. He is sweet (giving kisses, love, hugs and he says love you). He is so adorable it just melts my heart. He is also very social and charming and outgoing. I just know right know he will have tons of friends and probably lots of girlfriends. I will have to carry a big stick with me. This warms my heart so much to know that I get to be this kid’s mom. And I have so much to look forward to as he grows. I can’t hardly wait to see what he will be like in one year, two years and on.

Charlie 16 months

I believe he is absolutely normal. I am so blessed I got to adopt Charlie as an infant and that I got to start his life life on the best foot possible. He is going to be so GREAT.

Fetal alcohol syndrome and side effects

Fetal alcohol syndrome: I just can’t say yes to that

I do not foster children with FAS

For a thorough explanation on the syndrome, check out the link below, since I have only had a small touch of what FAS  is…

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fas.html

I know a foster/adoptive parent who adopted a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The way she described it I knew I couldn’t raise a child with this. As an adult her son still suffers from the side effects. Her example was “If I stepped off the curb and was going to be hit by a car, he would not try to save or help me. He would just standby and  watch with zero empathy”. He could function as an adult , but he has no feelings, he just can’t feel. Nothing would phase him. It is like there is something not wired correctly in his brain because things just do not connect. Another friend fostered a 17 year old and there was definitely something not wired right in his brain. It was like when you tell someone don’t touch the stove because it is hot and you will get burned. They will keep on touching it because there is no connection, they simply don’t get it. This is one effect I know I would not be able to deal with. Even if they are able to thrive and grow will they still have this lack of human connection?

I was worried my baby might have been exposed to this. I was so relieved to see him show empathy. He was only 11  months old. I was at the bottom of the steps and a container  of cat food came crashing down the stairs, spilling all over. I was mad about all the food spilled and Charlie started screaming from the top of the stairs. He was worried that I was hurt. I had turned it into a chaotic situation and he reacted with  an emotion of empathy for me. I assured him I was ok and I thought, Wow, thank the Lord he can feel that empathy at a young age. I knew then he did not have fetal alcohol syndrome. Because with the drug exposure I thought he might have been exposed to alcohol as well.

Maybe my baby was exposed to alcohol, but he definitely does not have the effects or tendencies of fetal alcohol syndrome… so far.

Is Meth Baby an Appropriate term?

Meth Baby: The reality of it

“I just can’t get over you calling your own child a “meth baby” it’s not nice”

reddit meth baby post

This week I posted to reddit a casual IMA AMA. For a newbie like me that is  I am A…. Ask Me Anything. I did this to get some discussion going since most of the time I have no one to discuss a meth exposed baby with.

My post was this “ImA adoptive mom to a meth exposed baby AMA”    In my description I wrote “I fostered Charlie for 1 year and I then adopted him in February of 2016. He is a meth baby with side effects. I searched for information on what to expect, only to find very little information. After 16 months I have first hand experienced a meth baby. Ask me anything.”

https://www.reddit.com/r/casualiama/comments/4ffpvj/ima_adoptive_mom_to_a_meth_exposed_baby_ama/

Most of the questions were good and some people offered stories of hope. But one person replied. “I just can’t get over you calling your own child a “meth baby” it’s not nice.

My reply was, “What else do you want me to say? Sorry but that is the reality of it.”

Anyone can say what they want, that is our right as free citizens. But this really shouldn’t be offensive. I am not trying to pick on anyone or single out anyone’s ideas and thoughts about this. I was glad for the input, It gave me a chance to really consider this topic. I simply am stating  facts. He was a baby born to a mom who smoked meth.

20 or so years ago the term used so often was crack baby. Well here in the midwest, today, where meth is rampant they are called meth baby. I shouldn’t have apologized for this term. That is exactly what they are. Babies exposed to methanphetamines. I certainly do not introduce my son as “here is Charlie, he is a meth baby.” When he is old enough to know what drugs are and what that means, I will explain to him how it is very bad to smoke meth and it took almost everything from his bio parent’s lives. He has already been exposed to drugs and it didn’t do him any good. Maybe he will see it my way. I hope so. I hope he can say to himself, I have already tried drugs and it only caused me harm, and wasn’t any fun.

Meth baby. That is what my baby was. Not what he is.

Meth baby side effects and growth

Nurture vs. Nature (a loving, safe home vs a chaotic drug affected life)

Charlie was born 6 weeks early, his meth baby side effects

A common side effect of meth exposure intrauterine is premature birth

At Charlie’s first pediatrician visit at 9 days old his measurements and weight were:

  • weight: 5.125 #s = 1st percentile
  • length: 19″ = 6th percentile
  • head circumference: 13″ = 3rd percentile

The numbers are very low and I was most concerned with his head circumference. His head needs to grow so that his brain will grow and he can mature. Head size growth in the first year of life relates to intelligence later, it’s what happens in the first year after birth that matters most. (According to Psychology Today: how to grow a smart baby.)

I think this can’t be more true. In one year and three months of constant nurturing…. attention, proper nutrition, a safe, stable, loving and affectionate home, and a schedule he knows, Charlie has grown by leaps and bounds. Last month at his 15 month appointment at the pediatrician his measurements and weight were:

  • weight: 22#s 7 oz = 46th percentile
  • length: 32.25″ = 87th percentile
  • head circumference: 18.7 ” = 70th percentile

At each doctor appointment they are thrilled with his progress and his intelligence. His motor skills, fine motor skills and social skills are outstanding. This is quite a difference. I remember the doctor,  at his 3 month appointment telling me he would be a petite child. Now at 16 months he is taller than most toddlers his age, and he has been walking since he was 10 months old. I think he is definitely overcoming nature with nurture.

I only know that exposing newborns to drugs is one of the worst things you can do to an unborn child. It is proven every day with drug side effects including premature births and low birth weight, length and head circumference — just to name a few. Charlie has clearly overcome some of the effects and is growing and maturing very well. I am thrilled with his development and I am always looking forward to his next measurement for a new mark on his growth chart. (Although he is not. He screams and cries just at the sight of the dreaded  white coat.)

I hope and pray that he has a good chance to be happy, healthy, and smart. And that we are giving him the best possible opportunity to overcome the circumstances of his birth and intrauterine meth and THC exposure.

 

Intrauterine drug exposure – digestive problems

I am not out of the woods yet….

Intrauterine drug exposure causes digestive problems

Today at 15 and 1/2 months my sweet awesome little baby who was affected by Intrauterine drug exposure, cried and screamed and whined and threw tantrums all day. My sister who does daycare for me for him, sent me videos of his behavior. My heart sank. I thought OMG he is not going to be normal. He has something not wired right in his little brain. There is something horribly wrong. As an infant he went through so much gas pain and trouble with his digestive system. Did anyone do a specific test for this? No. But he was spitting up so much I couldn’t even believe anything was going down. The doctor switched us to Similac spit up formula. This was a life saver, because it seemed to ease his pains and the formula stayed down. Digestive system trouble is 1 common side effect of a meth baby. And definitely for my infant. Because he was in so much pain for months he also did not sleep. It seemed like he was awake all the time. I can’t help but wonder if his stomach hurts. He can’t tell me in words. But, is he telling me by screaming.

There was finally hope. The spit up formula was a small miracle for an otherwise almost unbearable infant. But that was only 1 problem of many with my drug exposed baby. There can be a many things not right that I can’t see or that won’t show up until he’s at least 3 years old. And today I saw my awesome little toddler act like a totally different kid. Dare I say monster.

I hope and pray that this is teething. He has had nasty diapers, a snotty runny nose and cries and screams with no tears. The crying can be turned off in an instant. And start in an instant. I hope this does not last…….. But because I know what he was exposed to; meth and pot even on the day he was born, every possible little thing wrong I immediately go back to the drug effects. Because of an addiction and mental issues of his bio, my sweet wonderful child has obstacles to overcome that I can’t even see. It is not his fault in any way. And I love him more than anything. And I still hold onto the hope that he will lead a good life and be okay.

Taking on a baby with Intrauterine drug exposure is something  that must be carefully considered. How bad did I want to be a mom? Bad enough to go this far, and put everyone I know on this path. It doesn’t effect just Charlie, this affects everyone he meets.

My first Meth baby – Beautiful Elsa

Elsa was a premature newborn Meth Baby

My first foster placement was a new born baby girl. A meth baby. I got the call after lunch and I picked up my first newborn from the hospital a few hours later. I had to go up to the hospital room and meet the parents and grandma and take Elsa home. She was 3 days old and did not appear to have anything wrong with her, but she was tiny. She was beautiful just like the Princess she was named for.

I only had her for 1 week. Grandma got to take her home after the first court hearing. This was disappointing since my main goal was to adopt a baby, not foster one and then let them go. But for that one week I had a beautiful baby girl. You try not to get attached because I knew grandma wanted her and she was a good lady. But you still do. She was everything I ever wanted.

She was an easy baby. She slept 23 hours a day and I had to wake her up to feed her. She wasn’t fussy and only cried for food. She just slept so much. I don’t know what happened to Elsa, I hope she is doing well. Her only side effects as a new born meth baby was so much sleep and she was born 4 weeks early.

And that was my first meth baby.

Meth baby side effects

Meth Baby Side Effects – They are real

Effects of Meth in newborns

A list of dominant side effects of meth in the first 6 months that I saw fostering 2 babies

: meth baby side effects…
  • New born – slept 23 hours
  • 4 weeks – 6 months – No Sleep – (wide awake a lot)
  • Spitting up
  • Difficulty eating
  • Fussing
  • Crying/screaming
  • Abdominal pain
  • Grunting
  • Fidgeting
  • Inconsolable
  • Crunching legs and arms
  • Kicking and flailing – (difficult to dress)
  • Hand tremors
  • Sensory issues
  • No close eye contact
  • Moving head from side to side for no apparent reason
  • Dislike of bath time
  • Screams while changing a diaper

These are some of the most noticeable and dominant side effects I saw in the 2 meth affected babies I have had. There are more less significant things that happened  and no 2 babies are alike of course; more or less occur in other babies. Thankfully both babies were not born addicted to drugs, so I have not experienced those effects. I have only read about babies addicted to drugs at birth and I do not know other foster parents who have a drug effected child. But I have first hand experience of what this does to an unborn child. Every stage of his life I don’t know what to expect. But I am sharing our journey here. If it helps somebody I will share anything I can to help another family going through this difficult time.

My baby showed all of these effects up until about 6 months. At that point he really turned a corner and had grown enough to work through most of these problems. Will he have problems down the road? Possibly, but that remains to be seen. For now and I hope for the rest of his life he has left the effects of meth behind.

Some interesting links can be found here https://www.google.com/search?q=what+does+meth+do+to+babies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Chelsea

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