Saturday, November 24, 2007

Adoption Story Lines Everywhere

I don't know if you've been noticing what I've been noticing....adoption-related story lines are popping up everywhere!! Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, August Rush (amazing movie btw) and even Today's Parent has an article in their most recent issue about adoption!!! I was sharing my observations about this recent string of "coincidences" with my good friend and she wondered if this is all a sign (I am hoping for that myself too). She also asked me when and or if Grant and I plan to move back to the Toronto area - I told her that other than my job and our house keeping us in Waterloo, the stronger force keeping us in Waterloo is the hopes of adoption. We began the adoption process here in Waterloo way back in January and we are hopefully just a month or two away from having our homestudy conducted. I don't want to risk moving to another jurisdiction and find ourselves back at the bottom of another wait list - Grant & I had a wonderful date-night tonight, enjoying dinner and a movie. We talked about our adoption dreams and the conversation I had on the phone this morning with my dear friend and Grant looked at me and said "If we don't have a child in 5 years, let's move back to Toronto and buy a loft." As sad as the idea is of waiting another 5 years and still not being able to adopt our child, maybe it will be time to pursue another dream we share as a couple, an idea we planned for our earlier years of marriage or later years (a time without children in the home) - the dream of living in a big old loft in the core of Toronto and opening the doors of our home as a safe retreat for youth who need a place to go. A place to hang out, play music, eat, chat, sleep, and most importantly, a place to feel safe and welcomed...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I'm glad I switched over to my snow tires yesterday with the wet snow we had today in Waterloo!!

I opened my email today to find out I have been invited to another baby's another reminder that Grant & I are still childless. I don't know if it's hormones, the cold weather, or dropping my lunch on the floor today, but I'm very emotional right now - reading the email from my friend's husband made me sad. I don't like feeling sad, especially over something as exciting as celebrating the birth of a new life.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November Update

Just in case you were's the latest response I received from the Foster/Adoption Recruitment Supervisor at F&CS

Hi Janet,

Thanks for checking in. The waitlist is moving, albeit slowly. The next to assign are those who applied last December. You applied in January, just to give you a sense.

I can't believe it has been 11 months since we submitted our application form to F&CS to be adoptive parents. We had our first home-visit Feb 20, 2007. Signed up for the PRIDE course starting March 20 and were asked to wait for the next session of PRIDE due to priorities given to Foster family and Kin-adoption applicants. Signed up for PRIDE starting April 18 (my 30th birthday) and again we were bumped. Finally got into PRIDE out of our jurisdiction with courses running weekly from May 1 - July 3 and here we are at Nov 2, 2007 and we are still waiting to have our home-study conducted, which can take anywhere from 4 sessions to many months to complete from start to finish - WOW...when I lay it out like that, this has already been a very long journey and we are only at the beginning of this process because we still have not been "approved" to adopt yet!!! BUT, for every new baby we meet to every new milestone we experience with a child in our life, we know there is an amazingly precious gift waiting for us at the end of this journey.

The movie Evan Almighty had a great line in it that both Grant & I connected with and looked at each other with agreement..."When you pray for patience, do you think God gives you patience or opportunities to be patient? When you pray for endurance, do you think God give you endurance or opportunities to endure?"

Thursday, November 1, 2007


This post with have two parts - two very different topics. I'll start with the "lighter" one...

After reading book after book on adoption and newborns I decided to give my brain and emotions a little break and decided to read some light-hearted 'chick lit.' A friend shared her collection of Emily Giffin novels - "Something Borrowed," "Something Blue," & "Baby Proof." I enjoyed the first two books and breezed through them in a few days, but Baby Proof was a much slower read. The story was narrated by a woman who did not want to have children and divorced her husband because he decided he did. I just couldn't connect with her character and often became angry at things the character said about women who wanted children. I easily connected with the character's sister who went through fertility testing until the the last few chapters where she met a random pregnant university student in a shoe store and had such a great connection with the university student that one month later she was at home with her newborn adopted baby boy! That was soooooo not realistic. You don't just meet a pregnant woman while shoe shopping at Thanksgiving (American), pay the fees to her agency and bring a baby home days before Christmas!! There wasn't enough time for her & her husband to take the PRIDE course or to have a home-study conducted!!! I'll admit that I naively thought it would move that quickly for Grant & I....if only we lived in a chick-lit world filled with perfect timings and page limits to force a quick and happy ending.

Moving on to topic two FASD...

I attended a two-day course on "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in our Schools" last week and my eyes were opened very wide! I had many misconceptions and an out-dated understanding of FASD. I will share the points that really impacted me and will not only influence the way I work with children on my caseload, but will better prepare me to interact with people who have FASD.
  • FASD is not in the DSM-IV and not a recognized diagnosis in many school boards. Therefore, students who require supports in order to succeed in a school environment are not eligible for essential accommodations and services.
  • FAS, FAE, pFAS, ARND, ARBD, PEA, FASD = all are labels for damage from prenatal exposure to alcohol.
  • FASD is a lifetime challenge. It is organic brain damage caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.
  • The facial features commonly associated with FAS are only present if there was alcohol exposure between days 18-21, a time frame in which many woman are not even aware they are pregnant. If exposure to alcohol occurred between days 18-21 the characteristic facial features are typically only recognizable between the ages of 8 months and 8 years.
  • During any given week in Canada 10,000 babies are born
    • 20 of these babies will be born with full FAS (incl facial features)
    • 100 of these babies are born with Alcohol Related Neuro-developmental Disabilities
    • 77% of women with one child with FAS will have another child with FAS
  • FASD is an invisible physical disability - The exposure to alcohol kills cells and changes neurology. Our brain controls our behaviours and when there are changes to the brain due to alcohol exposure changes to how we can control our behaviour will occur.
  • Often ADHD is incorrectly diagnosed when FASD is a more appropriate diagnosis. Characteristic "red flags" that a person has FASD not ADHD are:
    • 1. acts young for his/her age
    • 2. cruel to others/bully
    • 3. does not demonstrate guild or remorse
    • 4. lies, cheats & steals
  • The following is a list of symptoms/characteristics of a person who has FASD - keep in mind that the "S" stands for SPECTRUM and a person with FASD can fall anywhere along the spectrum from being highly functional and successful to requiring many support systems in place.
    • Brain dysfunction - rigidity & perseveration = just can't stop; therefore, assure ability to achieve and have closure
    • Primary behavioural symptoms - behavioural symptoms that most clearly reflect changes in brain structure and function: 1. Dysmaturity, are younger developmentally (average age of emotional maturity development is 5years) 2. slow auditory &/or cognitive pace 3. memory problems - will have on and off days 4. in the now - difficulty predicting outcomes 5. difficulty abstracting, planning, starting 6. impulsivity **these behaviours are symptoms of FASD and are not willful; therefore, we must support these behaviours not punish them.
    • Secondary behavioural characteristics - defensive behaviours that develop when there is a "poor fit" between the person with FASD and his/her world/environment. These behaviours are preventable: 1. Fatigue, frustration 2. anxiety 3. anger 4. shut down, avoidance, blame 5. poor self-esteem 6. isolation 7. depression 8. poor impusle control 8. poor personal hygiene 9. problems with transitions 10. trouble with time concepts 11. trouble handling & keeping money 12. no fear 13. aggression 14. in trouble with law (will re-offend same crime over and over again).15.....
  • Accommodations:
    • FASD is an invisible physical disability
    • Brain structure & function is changed permanently
    • Behaviours are symptoms, they are not willful
    • Trying harder to change behaviours makes things worse
    • Recognizing the disability & providing accommodations prevents problems
    • This is what we do for people with more obvious and physical disabilities
Janet's Paradigm shift!!
One of the presenters shared a recent research study published stating that in South Africa neurological changes were evident in babies born to women who worked on vineyards and drank 4 glasses of wine, each glass at a different stage of the pregnancy. I used think it was okay to have a sip or glass of wine here or there during pregnancy - I will NEVER think that way again. I am glad I attended the course as I now have a clear and accurate understanding of the impact alcohol has on the developing brain and the permanent life-long damage that occurs and most importantly that FASD is a preventable disability.