ADOPTION AND PRENATAL ALCOHOL AND DRUG EXPOSURE
I. Information Gathering
In adopting any child, prospective adoptive parents will have questions about the biological mother's pregnancy, the events surrounding the baby's birth and the immediate postnatal course. Parents need to have this information . . .
The following recommendations have been advanced as important strategies to enhance the background information that is obtained about a child's health and family history:
- Practitioners should obtain an extensive history from/about birth parents as early in the pregnancy as possible. If it is not possible to obtain such a history, there should be a screening interview at the time a child comes into foster care or enters an orphanage.
- Practitioners should be aware of the high-risk factors and use them determine the probability that the mothers used alcohol/drugs during pregnancy. Cultural sensitivity and competency are critical - there are, for example, issues related to Native American use of alcohol.
- When there is inadequate maternal history and/or there is a question about he child's growth, developmental status or physical characteristics that may suggest prenatal exposure [such as facial appearance that might suggest FAS], practitioners should attempt to obtain such records as:
- photographs of the child over time [such as school records]
- growth data over time [height, weight and head circumference]
- ages when development milestones were reached
- observations of behavior by primary caregivers [birth family, foster family, teachers, health professionals, orphanage staff]
- status of siblings - known diagnoses and current developmental status
- Practitioners should keep an open mind about possible alternative diagnoses for developmental and neurological disabilities even in the face of known maternal alcohol/drug use.
- Widespread awareness of the effects of prenatal alcohol/drug exposure should be promoted among the many disciplines that have contact with children and families - health care workers, substance abuse counselors, social workers, attorneys for children and families, and juvenile court judges.
PRENATAL SUBSTANCE EXPOSURE
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