FASD and Adoption / Fostering

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The vast majority of parents of children with an FASD are adoptive or foster parents. Some knew about FASD when they welcomed their children into their family, while others did not. In either circumstance, information is the key to success in raising children with an FASD.

The foster or adoptive parent of a child with FASD assumes a responsibility far beyond that normally associated with parenting. The constellation of physical, intellectual, and behavioral characteristics that typifies many persons with FASD can create a very demanding situation for any family. The children often require constant supervision. Parents require an extraordinary amount of energy, love, and most of all, consistency. Therefore, these parents need support in their efforts. This support can often be provided by the social service network to help prevent the burnout that often accompanies high-stress parenting situations.

All adoptive or foster parents must have a realistic view of the child's functioning in order to develop reasonable expectations and plan appropriate interactions for the child in order to minimize management problems. Still, despite the many problems of patients with FASD, these individuals have a great capacity for love and contribution to family and community. The challenge of caregivers and service providers alike is to help these children harness their potential and find their place in the world.

Below are some types of services that may be available to assist adoptive or foster parents address the challenges of rearing a child affected by FASD.

Support Groups

Participating in a parent support group set up around the needs of those parenting disabled children can be an ideal vehicle for parents to share information, gain support, and overcome the feeling of being "the only one" experiencing problems.

Financial Assistance

Many caregivers of children with FASD will require some form of financial assistance as well. Adoption of children with FASD, as with other special needs children, can mean high costs and low subsidies for families. An advocacy-oriented caseworker can be an invaluable resource in helping potential foster and adoptive families identify available financial resources and negotiate their way through the maze of paperwork often required.

Respite Care

Many parents and foster parents of FASD children benefit from respite care. However,  they need to seek out existing programs which might serve them. The daily stress and demands generated by a child with many daily needs can easily trigger parental burnout. Once a parent support group is operative, a rotating system of informal, needs-based respite care can be arranged among participating families in some cases.


Children and parents dealing with the problems of FASD need strong advocates. Advocacy must come from both the parents and the professionals involved. Their different spheres of influence and different roles must combine to ensure that the needs of both parent and child are being met.

Useful Links

Adopting And Fostering Children With FASD
If You (or a Loved One) Plan to Adopt a Child With FASD
Adopting and Fostering Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders
Thinking About Adopting a Child Who May Have FASD
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders In Foster and Adopted Traumatized Children: Recognizing the Symptoms; Learning Effective Interventions
FASD: What the Foster Care System Should Know
Adopting a Substance-Exposed Child