Monday, June 29, 2015

What are you open to? (Part I)

What are you open to? (Part I)

      What are you open to?  This was a question I was asked at the beginning of our adoption journey.  I was taken aback by the question, to be honest.  If I were able to become and maintain a pregnancy then I would be open to what ever the future was- there wouldnt be a choice. But I digress.  So after attending a few workshops about adoption we learned that situations come up that may be controversial or maybe considered less desirable to many families.  Maybe would have a greater likelihood of producing a child who may have some needs or delays or would make you a conspicuous family.  Apparently as an adoptive parent you have a choice. (Who thunk it?)  What were we open to? What were we willing to accept?  What were we willing to deal with or handle? What types of situation might we want to be considered for?  That is really a tough question to ask yourself when you are (Ill just say it) desperate to be a mom.  Hey I was tempted to say we were open to anything green, three arms, four eyes, if it is human count me in. and then I realized this of course is a life long commitment and since I have a choice what degrees of needs might we be willing a handle- be able to handle?

      Our social worker gave us a list to guide our decisions- things were on that list that I could never have thought of.. race, gender, mental illnesses I had never heard of, incest, rape, 1 or both expectant parents currently incarcerated, habitual drug use, alcohol use, and on and on.  The list then broke down into different types of drugs that we might be open to (what whoa!) some I didnt even know what they were.  There were the opiates: heroin, crack, cocaine, vicodine, oxycontin, methadone, morphine, etc. and there were the street drugs shall we say: marijuana, meth, amphetamines, spice, K, Molly, etc, and there were prescriptions like xanax, and subuxxone and antidepressants and antipsychotics.  The list went on for 2 pages.  I was overwhelmed.  My husband shut down and said we wouldnt be open to any anything but a perfectly perfect pregnancy.  Was there such a thing?  My mom got pregnant on purpose, did everything the doctor told her and neither my sister or my brother or I are perfect.  My husband certainly isnt perfect.  Is anyone? 

      I couldnt accept closing the door to so many potential situations.  I turned to the internet.  Website after website.  Article after article.  Some horror stories, videos of newborns experiencing horrible withdrawal symptoms, and then an article from The New York Times.  (You can read it here  And the sun came back out!

      That New York Times article changed my outlook.  Basically it summarized some long-term studies that all came to the basic conclusion that babies who were exposed to opiates (and most other drugs) in utero are usually just fine when they grow up.  Will they suffer through withdrawal? Probably.  Will they need Early Intervention Services? Maybe.  Will they grow up to be normal humans? Probably.

      After reading the New York Times article I hopped into my car and drove to a local medical school library where I spent hours reading study after study.  Basically, drugs arent a good thing BUT most usually dont cause lifelong disabilities when the child is raised in a stable, loving home without all that comes with addiction.  Short-term or correctable/manageable effects do happen and most likely would.  These would include:

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)- which is a fancy name for withdrawal.  Withdrawal symptoms apparently vary greatly and are dependent more on the individual baby then on how much exposure there was.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Symptoms often begin within 1 - 3 days after birth, but may take up to a week to appear. Symptoms may include: Blotchy skin coloring (mottling). Diarrhea, Excessive crying or high-pitched crying, Excessive sucking, Fever, Hyperactive reflexes, Increased muscle tone, Irritability, Poor feeding, Rapid breathing, Seizures, Sleep problems, Slow weight gain, Stuffy nose, sneezing, Sweating, Trembling (tremors), and/or Vomiting.  (Okay so those can be scary!)  There are several protocols to support a baby experiencing NAS.  They include environmental accommodations like creating a dimly lit environment free of loud or sudden noises, using a white noise machine, shhhhhhing, tight swaddling, kangaroo care, and limiting movement around a room.  There are also medical interventions such as administering morphine, methadone or Phenobarbital.  These medicines would be given in the NICU and require weaning over several weeks.  NAS can last anywhere between 1 week and 6 months.  Would it be ideal? No.  Could we handle it? Yes.  Well there it was.  So yes we were open to drug exposure.  Now to tackle the rest of the list.

Written by Dorothy
Adoptive Mom

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