Introduction to Prenatal Exposure for Those Considering Adoption

Should you adopt a child who has been exposed prenatally to alcohol or drugs? What are the short and long term impact of drinking during pregnancy or use of methamphetamines, opioids, Methadone, Suboxone, marijuana, and tobacco (cigarettes or vaping)? We talk with Dr. Julia Bledsoe, a board certified pediatrician specializing in adoption and prenatal exposure. She is a professor at the University of Washington in General Pediatrics, and also the faculty pediatrician at the UW FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) Clinic, the longest standing FAS center in the US. She is also an adoptive parent.

Hit the Highlights
  • Prospective adoptive parents considering any form of adoption (domestic infant, foster care adoption, or international adoption) often need to consider whether they are the right family to adopt a child with prenatal alcohol and drug exposure.
  • How often is accurate information known about maternal alcohol or drug use during pregnancy with each type of adoption?
  • Are there signs or symptoms of a child that may have been exposed to alcohol and drugs in utero absent confirmation from the mother?
  • What is known about the amount or timing of alcohol or drug use and the impact on the baby or child?
  • Short term and long term impacts of the following substances:
    • Alcohol-does it matter the type of alcohol?
    • Methamphetamines
    • Opiates opioids-prescription
    • Opioids illegal
    • Heroin-fentanyl
    • Methadone or Suboxone
    • Marijuana
    • Ecstasy, inhalants
    • Tobacco-smoking cigarettes or vaping
  • What should parents consider when trying to decide if they are the right family for a child with prenatal exposure?
  • What are some ways that parenting a child with prenatal exposure is different from parenting a child with no or limited exposure?

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Music credit: Michael Ashworth