Tonight I want to talk about something I've held fairly close to my chest for some time now. At first it was because we were not allowed to share it. Now we make the call on what part of the kids story we share. We make decisions about what to share with great care. If it is done for the need of venting, it's not ok for us to share that with more than a handful of people and certainly not in a public forum such as this. My reason for sharing now is that we'll be a featured family on our agencies blog next week and it discusses the start of my sons life which was the catalyst for my kids being placed with us.
I'm sure many people have assumed there were issues with drug exposure but I want to clearly say there were. My son tested positive for several substances at birth meaning he'd recently been exposed. We have no idea how many times he was exposed through the course of his mother's pregnancy but we do know what it was just before she went into labor. He spent the first 5 weeks of his life at the Pediatric Infant Care Center (PICC) in Kent, WA going through withdrawals until he was weaned and no longer in need of morphine to help ease him through the process. 5 weeks at this center is on the shorter end of time usually spent there so we felt lucky he was able to come home to us that quickly.
The first two months were rough. There's no way to sugar coat it. That was in part due to his special needs of low stimulus (low lights, little to no noise, and kept tightly swaddled) but even more so the shock of becoming first time parents to two children under the age of 1. It rocked our world but in a great way.
We had 24/7 support over the phone for any questions or concerns. We had in home visits from nurses and access to a fantastic children's center who helped us find strategies to get Little Dude through the roughest patches. Yes we had to deal with inconsolable crying for hours on end for the first two months but now he's a chill and mellow kid. We never had to see him go through shakes or other withdrawal symptoms which can be hard to watch.
There is so much stigma of what a "crack baby" is and it's tragic. There is also not a lot of data available because there is so much unknown. It's rare that a child is born with exposure to just one thing, as was the case with Little Dude. You can read about what say cocaine does to a child but you don't know what it means for your child when paired with other drugs. Each child often has their own "cocktail" of substances present so comparing one to another is difficult.
I want people to know these children should not be neglected and people should not be afraid to open their hearts to them. I also never want a label assigned to my son that reflects in anything other than positive. I don't know yet how we'll talk to him about the start of his life but it's a discussion we'll have to have. We want him to know he has risks and experimentation with drugs for him could result in very different outcomes than what might happen for his friends.
We have no regrets and are VERY proud of the child he is today. No one could convince us he's is less than perfect in anyway...not from the moment we first laid eyes on him or until he's an old man himself.