View Full Version : Adopting Children Who's Mother Used Drugs

07-16-2005, 01:13 AM
I don't really know if this in an appropriate question for this board or not. My sister/brother-in-law are looking into independant adoption and have noticed that most of the birthmoms have done/do drugs, alcohol and/or smoke.

I can find lots of information reg: the effects of alcohol and even smoking online but not much with respect to drugs (particularly meth). One mother that they are interested in is a "casual" user - did meth prior and just after finding out she was pregnant, as well as 3x/wk for the past two months (she is 23 weeks along). She is also smoking cigarettes.

I don't know of anyone who has adopted a child from a birthmom that used drugs/smoked. I appreciate any input one might have...it is a difficult choice as to whether or not to move forward. My heart aches for that poor child who has NO say about what is happening to it!

Thank you in advance.

07-16-2005, 08:25 PM
First, have to point out for anyone else reading this that the majority of birthparents, in general, do not smoke/drink/use drugs. Many have pregnancies just like the people on this board, but are unable to care for a child at this time in their lives. In our case, we were presented with 10 situations before being matched with our son's birthmother. Of those, only 2 had drugs/alcohol use in their history. Sorry, just don't want to feed into the myth of birthparents being teenagers, alcoholics/druggies, uneducated, etc. That "myth" gets played out far too much in the media.
That said, while our son was not exposed to anything prenatally, we still did research and a few things that I can recommend (our agency provides a lot of classes/information):
* look into borrowing the book "Adoption & Prenatal Alcohol and Drug Exposure: Research, Policy, and Practice" (Paperback)
by Child Welfare League of America (Corporate Author), Richard P. Barth (Editor), Madelyn Freundlich (Editor), David Brodzinsky (Editor) - It's a dry read, but it has a couple of nice charts in it that review the short-term effects and studies about long-term effects of prenatal drug/alcohol use
* try and get some articles by Dan Griffith. He's a nationally recognized speaker about prenatal drug/alcohol exposure and works closely in the field of adoption. Two articles - Adopting a Child who has been Prenatally Exposed to Drugs: Risks and Realities; Follow-Up Study of Exposed Children (March 2001, JAMA)
* Call around and ask to speak with hospitals, therapists, etc. Most will do so freely and, as it is a major lifelong commitment that you are making to a child, it is worth the extra effort to everyone
* Join the forums at www.adoption.com There are general adoption groups and special needs groups (which include drug and alcohol exposure). Lots of people who have been-there-done-that and have numerous resources to share
I hope this helps a little. It's a scary thing and hard to take at times when you know you would have done your pregnancy differently. It's all about the comfort level of the adoptive parents, nothing is a guarantee no matter how much or little exposure is involved. Good luck!

~Connor's Mom 02/2004~
Agency paperwork completed - waiting for #2!

07-17-2005, 03:33 PM
Thanks for your input and all your suggestions. I don't honestly know the % of "normal" pregnancies vs. teen/drug related ones....either way I pray that the child gets into a loving and caring home. My sister/brother-in-law are doing independant adoption as they cannot financially afford to go through an agency. I had some close friends that did it that way too. I would suspect that those birth parents are a higher % of teenagers, uneducated, drug/alcohol users, etc.

Again, I appreciate your input and will share it with my sister. You are correct in that it is a lifetime committment and they want to be comfortable with their decision.


07-21-2005, 03:17 PM
I don't know if this will help or not, but one of my acquaintances confided in me that she smoked pot regularly while pregnant. Her child seems perfectly normal to me.

Mommy to my Strawberry Shortcake lovin' Martie

07-24-2005, 05:50 PM
I am not saying this to promote drug use while pregnant, but I am a foster parent and I have alot of experience with drug babies (i'm using that term as to not be so wordy). I have had many newborns placed in my care straight from the hospital whose mothers used drugs while pg. These babies were very high functioning. I've had meth babies and cocaine/crack babies. The babies that suffer the most are those exposed to alcohol and have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am getting ready to adopt my second drug-exposed child. These children are high functioning-my son makes honor roll every quarter and has since he has been in school (he's going to 7th grade this year). These children are at a high risk for later problems-behavior, mental health, predisposed to drug abuse themselves. I strongly believe it is the nurture that outweighs the fact of the drug use. If you did not know my kids'history, you would not think "oh birthmom must have used drugs." Of course, there are children who have lots of health issues as a result of drugs, but there are children who suffer minor effects and are very desirable for adoption. Don't write them off due to mom's mistakes.

07-24-2005, 05:53 PM
I also wanted to add that there is a difference: some children are born with a positive urine tox for drugs but are not addicted or suffer withdrawal. There are other babies that suffer horribly from withdrawal at birth. My current foster son's mom used drugs during pregnancy, but his urine was not positive for anything at birth, he is having physical issues due to birthmom's neglect after birth.

07-24-2005, 06:37 PM
Thank you all for your input. I appreciate it. From what we've read I'd have to agree that the environment in which the child is raised is as (if not MORE) important that what the mom did while pg. You'll all be happy to know that my sister/brother-in-law have decided to continue with this young lady despite all of her "issues". They have found a nice, quiet home for young, single mothers-to-be where she can stay in a safe (untempted) environment until the child is born. We pray daily for Gods care and protection for them all. Thank you all again for your input.