Adoption is a wonderful, yet challenging experience for both the birth parents and adoptive parents. When you adopt a child, you must be prepared for the health risks that can take place if there was any prenatal substance exposure.

While prenatal drug exposure is not common with every birth mother, it does occur more often than not. This can be frightening information to the potential adoptive parents; however, research shows that most children do well in a loving and healthy home environment despite prenatal substance exposure.

What you should know about prenatal drug and alcohol exposure:  

Firstly, you should know that every child is affected differently depending on what substance(s) were used during pregnancy, along with how many times these substances were used.

For example, drug and alcohol exposure increases the risk of early delivery or a low birth weight for the child.

Some infants experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: irritability, appetite problems, tremors, balance problems, language development difficulties, and sometimes other development issues.

Larger motor skills are not normally affected by prenatal substance exposure. Other factors (such as neurological problems) could be the cause of these skills being affected.

Potential adoptive parents should also consider the fact that birth mothers won’t always admit to prenatal substance abuse. This is due to the fact that most birth mothers feel too ashamed or embarrassed to admit their previous substance use.

The best way to deal with this fact is to show support and understanding to the birth mother during this time. A birth mother needs to know that an adoptive family won’t think less of her because of her addiction/substance abuse problems.

If the family understands the birth mother, it can help the birth mother become more open. In turn, this helps both the birth mother and adoptive family, as medical knowledge of substance abuse can help ensure the safety of the mother and child.

What should you do as an adoptive parent if there is prenatal substance abuse in your adoption situation:

Don’t assume that nothing can be done for your child. Make sure to talk to medical professionals about what you can do for your child, along with potential therapies that could help whatever condition they may suffer from.

Also, remember to be understanding and open with the birth mother. Creating an environment of support can help the relationship you have with the birth mother that will benefit you in present as well as in the future.

Lastly, remember that every child is affected differently. As long as you provide a loving, stable and caring environment for your child they will prosper in your new forever family.

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