March 24, 2009

Drug Exposure

I’ve been trying to figure out how to word something I want to discuss because it sounds better verbalized than it does written. The subject is drug exposure.

But let’s back up. What’s the one thing every parent wants when their child is born? A healthy baby. Statistically speaking, I understand the rate of babies exposed to drugs is higher among babies being placed for adoption. And one of the things required of parents who adopt, before they can adopt, is that they take classes. Lots and lots of classes. From how to care for a newborn to identity issues a child who was adopted might face to in vitro drug exposure. (Personally, I think everyone should be required to take some of these classes, not just parents wanting to adopt, but I don’t get to make those calls.)

As adoptive parents, we start out very prepared. We know what to expect. And we’ve been forced to have many discussions about what we can handle. That’s one reason my husband and I decided we’d like to be paired with a birthmom who has not had drug exposure. Based on the reactions we get from some, you’d have thought we’d asked for the moon and a million dollars too, rather than just a healthy child.

Our daughter’s birthmom did not do drugs; we know there are other birthmoms out there that don’t. Because we’ve chosen to build our family through adoption doesn’t mean we should be made to feel bad if we want a drug free kid. And that’s what has happened—we’ve been made to feel guilty for wanting a child that hasn’t been exposed to drugs. I don’t think the guilt is intentional. There is a perception (based in part on facts) that most birthmoms have done drugs. Why else would they place their children for adoption, some ask. (There are actually lots of reasons people place a child for adoption; we can discuss that later.)

One difficult thing about adoption is all of the choices you have to make; all of the conversations you have to have about topics that would likely never come up otherwise. [That might account for why, statistically speaking, the divorce rate among couples who adopt is tiny (like five percent) compared to the national average which is something like 50%.]

This is what I mean by this being a hard discussion to have in written form—I would hate for anyone to feel like I’m saying anything negative about children who have been exposed to drugs. Some of our closest friends have children that were adopted, and exposed to drugs, who are thriving (and excelling), and who are the warmest, sweetest kids I’ve met. Ultimately you have to decide what you’re capable of. You want to create a family environment that will succeed—biting off more than you can chew doesn’t help anyone. For us, we’ve decided that with all the other potential issues and risks, we’d like to take one off the table (drug exposure) and go from there.

I’d love to hear from other adoptive parents to learn what your experience has been.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

When it comes to adoption, everyone thinks they know better than the actual adoptive parents. For everything we go through we do have a right to want to raise a healthy family. We would never ask our friends what sexual position they were in that caused their child to have red hair! I will say that the one thing I have learned as an adoptive mother is to keep my children's information private. This way, stupid, know-it-all people can keep their unwanted opinions to themselves (not that I'm judging them or anything)!