LETTER: Mothers of people with FASD need recognition and more services
I would like to give my sincere gratitude to Karri for having had the courage to come forward and share her difficult journey with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
Without stories like hers, we would not realise the struggles these individuals face on a daily basis, particularly when they enter the school system, where the stigma becomes a very stark reality for many of these individuals and their families.
It is often far too easy to lay blame on the birth mother for being the only cause of this devastating and totally preventable disorder.
I mean, who else should we blame? Unfortunately, this kind of attitude has the unintended consequence of doing more harm than good.
The fear of being perceived as villains because of circumstances that led them to drink throughout their pregnancies, only perpetuates the shame and stigma these birth mothers may be experiencing, and pushes them further into isolation and secrecy.
This could have a detrimental impact on not only the quality of their prenatal health, but also of the health, well-being, and future outlook of their unborn child. And it does very little to address the help and counsel they may need for the problems that caused them to drink in the first place, leaving them vulnerable to future alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
Many of these women are living with alcoholism, substance-use issues, and chronic adverse life conditions, and they have no-one to turn to and nowhere to go for help as a result of this stigmatic attitude.
And even if they do have the courage to come forward and reach out, the treatment services are sadly either unavailable to them, or deficient in quality. Many treatment facilities do not allow access for pregnant women, nor provide childcare for the children who are already in their care.
Birth moms are human beings too, and all human beings have a right to human dignity.
What society does not recognise, however, is the critical role birth moms play in improving the lives of those affected by FASD, and in preventing more alcohol-exposed pregnancies. But what is equally important is the role that our families, our communities, our governments, and our societies play in understanding and supporting the root causes of women’s use of alcohol during pregnancy.
Birth-mom and founder of
Wheel of Life Support Services
South Slocan, BC.
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