Monday, February 27, 2012

Tips for children and babies who have special needs

Helpful tips for babies and children with Fetal alcohol syndrome

Sleep problems: Try a quiet, dark room I like to rock babies to sleep however Christopher wanted none of that.  A nice warm bath and lotion after can help relax them. Avoid  sensory stimulation before trying to get them to sleep like watching cartoons on TV.
FAS babies and children usually do not sleep as much as other babies. My husband would sit at night with our youngest, Christopher on his chest as he watched TV while I got some sleep. My six year old Stephen and my four  year old Christopher,  sleep better with music or nature sounds on in his room as well. 
Tyler is over stimulated by the same sounds so it doesn't work for him 
 All three of our boys still wake up through the night.  I have tired lavender soap and lotion, teas to relax them, there are only a couple of things  we have used that have helped, Melatonin and Clonidine. We do have a bedtime routine to help them calm down also. Usually a story, snack, rocking and bedtime prayers. 

Christopher in his favorite place to sleep

Eating problems: With an infant, try using a preemie nipple, with my son I changed to Nuk and that helped him. It sometimes takes them much longer to eat than other babies the sucking reflex isn't always as strong. You can gently stroke their cheeks to help encourage  sucking. Expect feedings to take longer and you might try feeding them less and more often.  
We found out at the age of 2 when we were still dealing with major eating problem with Christopher that his tonsils and adenoids were very large they were removed when he was almost 3. This greatly interfered with his eating, it has improved, however he does still have problems eating. We offer a reward for what we call a “happy plate” which means he ate all of his food. We give him small portions so he is able to achieve his goal and get the reward usually a small piece of candy, he can always have more food if he wants it. We also still at the age of 4 find ourselves feeding him about half way through the meal. He can use a fork and spoon but once he has enough in his stomach so that he doesn't feel hungry he wants to be up and running. We do time out now that he is 4 when he gets up from the table he understands he has to sit if he is going to be in the dinning room while we are eating. He is allowed to go up to his room and play if he doesn't want to eat. Meal times are very hectic in our home still but we are slowly getting there. While we struggle to get Christopher to eat. Tyler doesn't know when to stop eating and will eat very fast he has gotten sick many times so it is up to me to be his external brain and have him slow down and tell him he has had enough.

Christopher weighed only 5lbs 3 ounces at five days old.

Failure to thrive: Try not to worry about the height and weight charts. It is normal for the child with FAS to be in the 5% percentile. As a baby, Christopher did much better once I started giving him baby cereal in an infant feeder. He also ate better when I started spoon feeding him. It took him a long time to catch up in his height and weight he and Stephen were always at the bottom of the scale while Tyler was always at the top. 
 Ask your doctor about giving your baby vitamins. I give my children vitamins still just to make sure they are getting what their bodies need.
Use your best judgment when trying to get them to eat, you know your baby or child better than anyone else. If your child starts loosing weight consult your doctor.

Christopher 8 months old stealing my ice cream

Developmental delays: Your child might need speech therapy, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy.
We used first steps with Christopher, a therapist came to our home once a week and worked with him. Occupational therapy, OT includes Sensory Integration therapy. He responded well and we felt good that he was on target.
Normal milestones for FAS children are typically: walking at age 2, talking around age 3. All children do things at their own pace so don't worry if your child is early or a bit late on these. Christopher was rolling over at only a couple weeks old he liked being on his stomach, he was scooting around on his stomach at that time also, he started climbing at 3 months, that was a bit scary at times. He was pulling up at 8 months and walking at 14 months and he was talking using  one to two words at 6 months, he didn't start using sentences until after 2 years.

IQ tests for preschoolers often show higher scores than in they do in school years. Christopher was tested once he was 3 and moving out of first steps, he did test very high. The delays in social and emotional development might not be really obvious until around age ten. Don't wait till your child starts school you can teach them with the world around you.
Christopher is very bonded to my husband and I and is pretty social around people he had known all of his life. Since he was so bonded and also advanced we have put him in preschool two days a week for 3 hours each day, he is very quiet totally unlike at home, though his teacher says he is getting better at singing and playing in a smaller group of children. We do see the emotional delays in hi. While he is very intelligent he is easily frustrated and throws some fits more like a 2 year old child would. Stephen is emotionally more like a 2-3 year old also. Tyler is closer to a 4-5 year old now. We are having them tested again soon.
Stephen at age 3 2009 the date on the picture is wrong
Stephen was very delayed in his speech at age 3 the only word he said was Mama. He was also very small for his age and still is. He had a difficult time learning his colors and letters. It took over a year for him to learn colors. We focused on each color we had red day, red week ect. I spent a lot of time on colors everyone kept telling me he is color blind but he would have it one day and it was gone the next. This seems to be a normal thing for some children with FAS.F
My husband and I worked with him on his speech a great deal and we still do and he is now close to where he should be at age 6. We didn't know about First steps when he first came to us at almost 3 or we would have used them to help. We also didn't know he had FAS at that time.

Potty training:  Some FAS experts say: "It is common for the child with FAS to still be having issues around potty training at age 6 or even later. The neural pathways are not yet well-formed, as the brain development progresses, there will be progress. Sensory input is sometimes not functioning properly, and the message does not get from the body to the brain in time to act. Also, some sleep-aid medications (like Clonidine) may increase night-time bed wetting. Absolutely avoid punishment for accidents, no matter how old the child is. This is almost always a neurological issue, rather than a psychological one."

Stephen (Tig) feeling proud in his big boy pants age 2.7

I have potty trained successfully my three children with FAS. My 6 year old never has accidents day or night anymore. It did take some time to get there though. He was potty trained at the age of 3 but had accidents once in awhile until he was 4.
My youngest Christopher wanted to start using the potty off and on at 2, I never pushed him and we did use pull ups something I have never done before. It took a year of only positive encouragement and except for night time wetting, he is 100% potty trained. It seemed going slow with potty training was the right thing to do with our boys!
I will be posting a blog about how I potty trained my boys in more details later.

Some of the things FAS children deal with:
Poor impulse controlMore recently, the study of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Developmental Characteristics and Directions for further Research (1994) reported that children afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) are less able to delay gratification; indicating, perhaps, that poor impulse control might originate biologically, in the brain.
Source: Wikipedia
These special children need close supervision at all times. Child-proof the house as much as possible. I packed up everything I really didn't want broken still at the ages of 4, 6 and 8 my important breakables remain packed up. I also had my husband and a good friend make me some shelves that are very high up, well out of the boys reach even if they climb.
Going to friends houses that are not child-proof can be a nightmare at best it proves to be very difficult. I am running the entire time after one of the three. A four or five-year-old child with FAS will likely be closer in psychosocial development to a child of two or three. We give them lots of reminders, simple instructions and understandable boundaries. Make sure you go over what is expected of your child or children before you ever them in the house also we keep our rules the same thing every time we go to visit. The same goes for taking them shopping. Let them know what you expect and stick with it. If they are old enough have them repeat back to you what is expected often. We do time outs and we also take along some toys the boys will play with, their Leapsters have been life savers!!

Short-term memory and attention deficits disorder. Some FAS children have short term memory while others like my oldest son can remember the smallest detail. Stephen, my 6 year old struggles with this at times, I have found showing him what to do is more effective than just telling the him. To teach him how to spell his name I wrote it for him, then we used fuzzy stickers and he stuck them to a paper we also glued a picture of him. I had him try to write his name several times and we went over the letters singing them. We then used stickers and did another paper with his name on it he wrote his name under the stickers.. You can also put salt on a cookie sheet and have your child make each letter. This is very helpful once they are in school for learning how to spell words it help children who are sensory seeking to have different ways of learning he learns well when he can feel the shapes like with the fuzzy stickers.
I also made a picture story for Tyler to help him to get ready for school in the morning more independently. When my husband took over morning routine with the boys he told he found it very helpful in getting the boys ready for school for him as well. I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks! I also did this while I was potty training my 4 year old. Both seeing and hearing the steps helped a great deal with my sons. You then go over the steps many many times. I always even when they aren't reading yet write the steps below the pictures.
My oldest was diagnosed early on with ADD but he is not hyperactive at all. He was out of control which is entirely different. My two younger boys are hyperactive and have attention problems. Christopher is super nova hyperactive but he isn't a bad child and he can't help it. He is on medication Intuniv, which was helping really well however the past couple of months his hyper activeness has increased greatly.

CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder, the child might hear only part of what is said, it doesn’t all register with the brain. Stephen has problems in this area as well. An example of this was when he was 4 we were getting ready to go to a doctors appointment he was all ready to go and it was time to leave. I told him to go upstairs and put on his shoes. He didn't come back down so I called up and asked if his shoes were on yet. He said no so I told him just bring them down and I will help you. He came down the stairs in his Pj's! I didn't say a word because I knew he couldn't control what he was doing so I took him by the hand back up the stairs and I changed him back into his clothes and put his shoes on him.
He has times when he zones out it can last for an entire day especially if he is over stimulated by his environment.

A child of 5 might have the emotional development as a child of two or three. Give lots of reminders, simple instructions and understandable boundaries. Repeat what you expect from your child many times. If your child CAN'T do something you are asking then just do it without punishment you can't punish FAS out of them. When you know they can do it but wont that is the time for a time out and you will learn the difference.

Stephen making cupcakes (no we didn't eat them)

Other disorders that can go along with FAS:
 RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder and mood disorders, bi-polar disorder is common also. My oldest son, Tyler struggles greatly with each of these along with anxiety disorders.
Christopher and Stephen both have sleep apnea. We just got the results from a sleep study done on Christopher and he does stop breathing while he is sleeping.
Children with FAS are prone to a number of health problems since it is unknown which organs were damaged as the birth mother drank.
ODD oppositional defiant disorder, children peeing on the floor or other places besides the toilet is also very common even in older children.

My four boys, Tyler, Robert holding Christopher (Peanut back then) and Stephen (Tigger/Tig)~ 2008

Behavior problems in FAS often includes but not limited too, unpredictable and extreme mood swings, poor judgment, irresponsibility, attention deficit, impulsiveness, lack of normal self-discipline, and difficulty taking social cues.

Resources used: Personal experience, Wikipedia and

Friday, February 24, 2012

fun things.. or at least I thought so..


10. Try to catch your thumb

9. Count the cracks in the walls

8. Play with your imaginary friends:

7. Count the crazy relatives you wont have to be around during the holidays..

6. Catch up on all that writing you never wanted to do to begin with to people you don't really like anyway...

5. Create story lines for your favorite shows that you don't get to watch anymore..

4. Name all the spiders and mice..

3. Catch up on your reading.. Don't count on Internet you might have to have a real book!

2. Pretend you are Bat Man and this is your bat cave..

1. Play Solitaire 


Disclaimer I have never been in solitary confinement or even in jail sorry I am boring like that but if you have and would like to add feel free.. if you plan on being in solitary confinement anytime soon feel  free to copy this list and take it with you!!

Eleven things you should NEVER put into a friends request



1. Hello, Is it me your thinking of? Wanna be friends?2. I have been following you to work and home everyday and noticed you don't have a girlfriend wanna be friends?

3. Since you don't have any friends and no one likes me.. Wanna be friends?

4. Hey,  I see you have money I am looking for a new sugar Daddy, wanna be friends?

5. I am really desperate, wanna be friends?

6. Add me or die scum bag!

7. I see we have lots of common people who hate us, wanna be friends?? ( warning I have used this one and I got the add)

8. Your X (crazy, stalking) girl/boy friend wants us to be friends..

9.  I am your crazy X-stalking girl/boy friend on a fake profile will you marry me?

10. Hi, I heard you were sleeping with my husband wanna be friends? My lawyer says it will be easier that way.

11. I have been in prison for the past 20 years but will be getting out soon.. wanna be friends??

Please add more to my list!! Just having some fun..

Fall Colors - another poem by me..

Fall colors
The beauty of God's pallet,
painted or chiseled with a mallet..
By any man on his creation,
no artist in any nation..
can match it's wonder
or the roar of his thunder..
Only God the creator
could bless our world with such splendor..
as fall with all it's beauty and color.

So long ago

Innocent and sweet,

so long ago..

She had her hopes and her dreams,

so long ago..

He came and crushed them,

 so long ago..

In the dark of the night he came,

so long ago..

she thought she would die,

so long ago..

she was strong and carried on,

 so long ago..

He thought he could stop her dreams,

so long ago..

She grew to be a woman

 so long ago..

He could not destroy
what God meant to be,

so long ago..

Her dreams have all come true,

not so long ago..


The guards lead him down the long dark hall
roughly laid stones were the walls..

He held onto his faith,
He was at peace knowing, his very life was at stake..

He thought back to many Christian men he had captured,
in his minds eye, he could still picture

Their only crime was their beliefs, their lives he had shattered
he jerked back to now as his chains clattered

Down the steep steps he walked
As the other prisoners gawked.

Now he stood tall knowing his God,
was with him through it all..

Chained to a cold dark wall of stone,
He guided his fellow Christians from his new home..

For once he was an evil lost man, called Saul,
Now a humble God loving man, named Paul
Whose eyes were open when by God's touch he did befall..

Dreaming.. a poem about Fibromyalgia

Dreaming of a place far away,
to escape the pain if only for little while,
if only I could just sit and stay,
in this new place that makes me smile.

Only in my dreams I can be free,
free, to roam and love life again.
The sun shinning and the air breezy,
everything so beautiful and then...

I am pulled back to what is real,
to a life of pain and loneliness.
my legs stiff and brittle.
the sharp jabs of pain in my body feel like prickly cactus.

Jerked out of my dreams where I could be me,
back to a life that I can barely stand.
I know that some think I am only lazy.
So much blame as though this illness I had wanted and planned.

I prayed for healing, I prayed for death,
I prayed for my family to be able to withstand.
I hoped and prayed with every breath,
that somehow they would understand.

An invisible illness is what they call it,
I see the stares and hear the whispers, "she looks well to me"
They can't see how bad it hurts just to sit.
The sharp jabs of pain they don't want to see.

I still have the joys in life,
day dreams can come true.
I have fought my illnesses with all my might.
God has made my body whole and anew.

Maybe one day I will go to Africa,
not in my dreams but in this new life.
Then next to the arctic to see the tundra!
An explorer, or maybe just another dream of a housewife!!

My Lord and My God

God sent his son, the holy one

He came to teach us a better way.

his task would not be left undone,

For God's people had been lead astray.

The people were living in great sin,

God loved us so, he sent Jesus to show us how to live.

He sent his word to show us how a new life to begin,

His only purpose was so our sins God could forgive.

He became the light to those who could not see,

He was the healer for those who could not walk.

He came to save us all for in our faith was like a babies,

Common people and rabies all came to hear him talk.

To hear the truth, the love of God,

They saw the holy spirit as it  flowed

they were amazed by the miracles and stood in awe

To us a promise of God's grace, he bestowed.

If only we would accept God into our hearts

our soul from hell he would save.

He died upon that wretched cross because of the leaders fears.

They placed him into his grave.

The Mary's went to visit the tomb, but saw the stone rolled away

An angel of God to them appeared

He said your Lord has risen this day

Thomas doubted, to him the message was unclear.

He appeared to Thomas who touched his pierced side

My Lord, My God, he proclaimed

His heart could no longer his lord deny.

It is true his followers exclaimed.

Christ has risen and we are saved.

He came to heal, love and forgive.

To our sins we are no longer enslaved.

No longer in the dark to be held captive.

Copyrighted by Sherry Martz, 3-2009
You steal it and I will sick God on you!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Life with Fetal alcohol syndrome, the first year

My husband and I have been foster parents for over twenty years. We decided to open our home to children, said to have special needs. We began foster parenting with the intention of adoption this time, most likely  one or two older children.

I received a call one day from the organization we were working with, asking if we would take two young boys ages 2 and 4 who needed a more structured environment and a therapeutic home.

We didn't have much information about the two boys just that they had a lot of behavior problems. I only really spoke to one of the foster Mom's who told me some of the behavior problems mostly with our oldest.

We had two home visits with the boys. Tyler was very hyper and talkative he ran into the house demanding to know where "his" room was at. He knew his parents rights were going to be terminated and was under the impression we would be adopting him even though he didn't really know what that meant. He would hit me and then ask if he was being bad. I would tell him it isn't nice to hit.

Stephen was wild also but didn't speak he said only one word Momma anytime I would leave the room he would run after me yelling Momma! Momma! He was a sweet and very affectionate child. I rocked him to sleep but he wouldn't stay in bed no matter what I did so I finally ended up putting him in bed with my husband and I so we could get some sleep. The foster Mom told me she just put him in his bed and he went to sleep, he didn't do that in our home.

We were snowed in for two extra days,  Tyler was off his medication for for those extra days. I was hit, kicked and bitten by him both on and off his medication. Both of the boys were pretty wild and ran through the house rampantly. I had to be in the same room as they were the entire time. I was exhausted by the time they went back to the foster home they were living in. 

We didn't know at this time the boys had fetal alcohol syndrome. One of the few things we marked saying we would not be able to deal with in a child we adopted, having had a foster child years before who we later realized had FAS/FASD.

On the way to take the boys back to the foster home they were living in, Tyler was very loud and rude in the van. He kicked the back of my seat and was being mean to the other children. I finally told him if he was going to be rude I wouldn't talk to him. He screamed and threw fits, it seemed the closer we got to the foster home the worse he became he cussed a couple of times and we ignored him. We had been warned about the cussing before the visit but rarely heard any from him.

The two year old, Stephen, sat very quietly in his car seat not speaking at all. He seemed to be zoned out after having run so wild in our home. At two, this child was small for his age and looked about one, he acted more like a one year old also.

After the first visit, we honestly didn't know if we could do this. It was really hard and took a lot out of me to keep up with the two of them. We found out two of our other foster children were being moved out. I wanted very badly to do a second visit as I already felt an attachment to the boys. My husband reluctantly agreed only because two of our older foster children were to be moved in with a relative.

We did the second visit with much the same results right down to getting snowed in. By this time I had been told that Tyler was diagnosed with Attention deficit disorder. That was the only real information we had on him. Stephen supposedly had asthma and had to have breathing treatments. That wasn't hard to do it was the only time he would sit quietly. Once again zoned out. 
Tyler(4) and Stephen (2) during our second visit  Dec. 14, 2007

Once we decided for sure that we wanted the boys, we began to look at ways to make things easier on all of us. We still had two other foster children at the time. In addition another teenage girl moved in about a month before. We set up a room down stairs with toys in it, a child size table and chairs, a TV and my computer. We put a half door in it with a latch on the outside. I spent most of my day in this room with the boys for the first few months. Neither of the boys knew how to play with toys instead they threw them, jumped on them and broke them. They tore wall paper off my walls, pulled my carpet apart and couldn't be trusted out of our eye sight.

Dinner time was quiet a scene neither of them used a fork or spoon they picked the food up with their hands. Acting as though this was the first time they had ever eaten at a table. It didn't take long for them to catch on to using utensils.

Their behaviors became even worse when someone would come over to the house or when we would go out. We found that being strict on them starting out was the only thing that worked and it still does. Many people don't understand this but they have not seen what happens when we don't start out strict either.

We were told by their previous foster mom we would never be able to take them shopping, they would never be able to sit in church and we would never be able to take them out to eat in a restaurant. After about six months and after their baby brother came along my husband and I were hungry and the boys needed to be fed.

My husband suggested a pizza place and I cringed but decided to see what would happen. I had already taken the two shopping alone and didn't have any problems. Tyler stuck to me closely in the stores and I would place Stephen in the cart. We went into the restaurant for the first time their eyes wide and I could see the excitement in Tyler's eyes. We sat down and my husband went and got all of our food since it was a buffet. The boys did great not one problem out of either of them, they ate nicely and didn't try to get up and run around. The baby cried as babies do, it was a nice lunch.

Our boys came with very little, clothing that was worn out and most of it didn't fit either of them. We went shopping and bought them new clothes and new toys, we were also given some toys and good clothes for them from people in our church. The boys were overwhelmed when we went to the store and bought them new toys. Tyler told us they had only ever gone to Goodwill to get toys and clothes in the foster home.

I had to sit on the floor with the boys and show them how to play with the toys even still once I wasn't on the floor with Tyler he would just sit. He had no imagination and he didn't know how to play. He would watch TV and I let them eat their breakfast in the play room at the table and chair while watching TV.
 We had to keep our knifes out of their eye sight for some reason knifes upset them, mostly Tyler. The foster Mom had warned me about his obsession with knives. On our visit it was close to Christmas I asked Tyler what he wanted and he told me a knife! I tried not to show any emotion and just asked him simply why a knife. His reply was so "I can kill myself."

We put the boys on a low sugar diet immediately. We tried positive rewards with them, I put up a piece of paper with each child's name on it and bought stickers when they were good that day, they got a sicker to place on their page. I bought some toys at the dollar store and put them into a large bag the boys even helped pick out some of the toys. They were told when the papers were full of stickers then they got to pick one of the toys inside the bag to have. This and time out worked pretty well for several months.

Their case worker came to see them after a couple of weeks, she couldn't believe the difference in them. We didn't know how bad their behaviors, mainly Tyler's, had been before they lived with us. We found out it had been much much worse than we had been told. The oldest had been known for leaving bruises on anyone who went to visit him. He had poured coffee and water on people cussed at them, left a dent in one of the ladies cars. We had not seen these behaviors in him except for a few hits and some kicking when he was told no and threw a fit. Tyler's counselor couldn't believe the difference in him either, in only a couple of weeks, he was calmer and said please and thank you to her. Everyone who had known them from the past said they were different children and wanted to know what we had done. We we were pro-active in their lives and gave them healthy boundaries. When someone came to the house we kept our boundaries they soon learned we didn't and still don't change our rules no matter who is around. In fact at home with no one else around we are still able to be much more flexible with them and have a lot of fun.

We also found out Tyler's diagnoses were not only Attention deficit hyperactive disorder but also oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder, Reactive attachment disorder and Post traumatic stress disorder. I read on line, ordered books and learned as much as I could about each of these.

Robert and I were on our way to
Wal-mart, nineteen days after Tyler and Stephen came to live with us, we now had five foster children living with us! We were talking about how this was more than we had wanted but that two of them would be moving still but we were done taking in anymore foster children.

Thirty minutes later I got another phone call, our boys birth mother had given birth to another boy and they wanted to know if we would take him. I told our case worker I would have to call her back after I spoke to my husband. I wasn't even sure how I felt about it at this point but I found him and told him about the baby and he immediately and unexpectedly said well we need to keep the boys together. I responded with so what are you saying? He said "Yes, now what do you think about this bike?" I called the case worker back she thought they had already taken the baby and we began shopping for a new baby. Trying to remember what all a new baby would need was difficult.

The birth mother had a visit with the other three boys and while the boys were in the visit with the birth Mom we were given the baby as a foster child. The goal is always reunification and even though the parental rights would soon be terminated the birth Mom signed off on the other three boys at the hearing. My husband and I now had three out of four of the brothers in foster care. 

Our first night with Christopher (Peanut) 5lbs 13oz
Feb 20, 2008

The baby came with his own set of challenges. He had stomach problems and would cry a lot. He didn't like to be cradled like most babies do. He wanted to be laid down when he was sleepy and not rocked to sleep. He would also scream anytime he had to have his clothes changed as though he was in horrible pain. His little bottom had two open sores on it. I took him to our doctor the next morning and called the social worker at midnight when I saw them on him.  We know now the birth mom was not only binge drinking while pregnant but was also on Meth so our baby was in withdrawal and still today has sensory issues.

The first night at five days he didn't sleep at all, so I neither did I. We put a bed in our room for him and by two months he did start sleeping through most of the night. He would also roll onto his stomach and would scoot from one end of the bed to the other. Not really a normal thing for a baby so young to do. We tried to keep him on his back but the only two ways he wanted to sleep was in his car seat or on his stomach. Through out the night I would move him from one place to the other and try to put him on his back again but he was very unhappy with that so we would go back to the car seat. I bought him a nice bouncy seat and he would sleep in that for a short time but still wanted to be in the car seat. During the day he slept better in his own bed but he wanted to be carried anytime he was awake not rocked and cradled but carried he wanted to be moving. My husband would stay up after I went to bed at night and he would lay on his chest and sleep while my husband watched TV. Then when he was ready to sleep it was my turn to take him. He had trouble eating right from the beginning too. It would take me over three hours to get 2 ounces in him so by the time he was almost finished with one bottle it was time for the next one. He ate very slowly and would fall asleep while I was trying to feed him. I would rub his cheeks to try to get him to eat more.

Our first Easter with the boys
Christopher 2mo.(above)
Tyler and Stephen  (below)

Our first year with our boys was one of amazement as they grew to be their own little persons and the wonderful changes they went through. There were also just as many challenges things we had never had to deal with before.
Tyler still comes up with new things for us just to make sure we are still paying attention and up for a new challenge.


Christopher, climbing before he could crawl

We have dealt with things like Tyler peeing all over his bed and his bedroom floor and twice he smeared his poop all over his room and furniture. We tried putting him in preschool but had to take him back out because the behaviors got so bad. Tyler came with a lot of baggage and  most of it was not good. Not only does he have FAS/FASD but he also has reactive attachment disorder, ODD oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an anxiety disorder and a mood disorder which we now see as bi-polar disorder and ADHD
Tyler and Stephen (Tigger) Spring 2008

Stephen came with his own set of issues, though when they were placed with us he didn't have any kind of a diagnoses yet.

They were all diagnosed with
fetal alcohol syndrome, after being here for nine months. All three of our boys had all the physical requirements to be diagnosed with FAS and some they didn't have to have. They had a lot genetic testing done at that time also but we never got any results we assumed there wasn't anything unusual with them.

Stephen (Tigger/Tig) summer 2008

We have very clear rules in our home and we stick with them. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome have to have very strong clear boundaries. They only see things in back and white so if you say "no" to something it needs to stay no. When you allow them to play with something you can't change it from day to day. It does take some thinking ahead which is hard to do when they have already been living with you for several months. We also ask them if they understand what we are saying to them and most of the time I have them explain what they need to do back to me so I know that they really do understand. Often times they didn't understand at all.

Tyler had a huge vocabulary but he didn't understand the words he was using. The boys love to help out around the house. One day when Tyler had been acting up I told him he would have to help me with my work because I wasn't able to get it done since he was taking up all of my time by acting up. He was having a down day, but when he was wiping out the bathtub he had a smile on his face. When he helped me put the laundry into the washing machine he was happy. It wasn't a negative consequence like I had thought.

Helping has actually built up his self esteem so now I try to find things they can do. I am normally a very picky person and things have to be done a certain way. I have let go of most of that, the boys help fold their clothes and I help match them up. They pick out what they want to wear each day unless we are going to church.

We decorated the boys bedroom before we knew it would over stimulate them. Tyler has been moved to his own room since it wasn't working well with them sharing a room.
His room is very plain and simple because he is not able to function with too much in it. He has a plain tan curtain and a plain tan cover on his bed. I took most of the decorations out of the other bedroom and that has helped. I also have light dampening curtains on their windows which have helped greatly at nap time. I hope that we will be able to slowly move somethings in that the boys want.

Tyler would like to have a Spider Man bedroom but tore up his table and chairs that was in his room which had Spider Man on it.They pulled the new wall paper off the wall in their room and the old wall paper too. Stephen climbed up and got the things down off the shelves so all of those had to be taken out also.

We do things to help the boys with bonding like all of us dressed in overalls and went to church. We also had our fall pictures taken in them. At Christmas we all wore red shirts even their older sister had one on. This helps them see us as a whole unit, a real family. It has been harder on Tyler who fears being moved out of our home. He knows we are adopting him but he has been moved several times in the past. I went to my daughters while she was in the hospital and had to stay over night Tyler was very upset that I was gone. He had nightmares that his birth mother broke into our home and took him away.

We have a bedtime routine, the boys have a snack if they have been good that day. I read them a story and then my husband rocks each one while I sit with the other one. I rock them at different times and we both make sure we hold them during the day. Also lots of hugs and kisses are exchanged.
They are very loving children. We have to do intentional bonding and feel that Stephen has already bonded to us as his parents. He happily tells everyone, “we are a family” with a big smile on his face. Tyler who loves us is still struggling with his fear of being moved or taken from us, so he holds back a bit which is a normal thing for him to do.

Every night we each say one good thing about everyone else at the dinner table this helps us to build their self esteem and helps with the bonding at the same time. The boys love doing this and when we get to the baby we all clap for him. On Friday nights we just started having family night where we play a game or watch a children’s movie and have popcorn with the boys.

Stephen is three now, he is potty trained and he even stays dry most nights. He talks in sentences now using three to four words. We tried to get him into speech therapy but were told  wrongly, the funding has been cut and they didn't have any room for him. My husband and I work with him everyday on his speech. It is seldom that he isn't talking now. A few weeks ago he came into the kitchen and asked me to bake a cake with him. I asked him, "why should I bake a cake with you?" He relied, "because I used my words." I couldn't argue with that so we baked a word cake that evening. He is still not at his age level because he never will be.  have worked for over a year to teach him colors we have done red day and just when I think he has it, he doesn't so then we did red week. It took over a year for him to finally get his colors and then one day he just had them he still made some mistakes but for the most part he had them. This is very common with children who have FAS. He is learning his letters and knows the alphabet song. He can write a couple of the letters in his name. He is able to count up to 14 for some reason he tends to forget the number 5. He  is a very happy and loving little boy, he is full of life and energy and make us smile a lot.

Tyler is doing much better, he still has rages but they are fewer, less intense and farther in between. He still pees his pants when he is angry and we are still working on this issue. He does not have any physical problems that cause this. He has not pooped in his pants in months. He has learned how to write his first name and is learning his last name. He knows his address and I am teaching him our home phone number. He can write most of his letters and is learning the sounds. We don't know if he will be ready for school next year emotionally, we are waiting before we make that decision but he will be reading soon. He has his cycles of being very down and then he has cycles of being very hyperactive. Both have their down sides and both has positives. It hurts me to see him when he feels so down but he is also more sneaky about doing things
during those times and has to be watched more

Our first Christmas with our boys, Tyler, Stephen and Christopher

Christopher, the baby just turned one, he is walking and he is into everything. We have never had to child proof our home the way we have had to with him.

He likes to climb and he likes tight spaces. He has a temper when he wants something but we hope he will learn like the other two are, that the tantrums don't work. He gives us hugs and kisses now, but it took some work to get him to that point. He is very bonded to both myself and my husband. He doesn't just go to anyone the way the two older boys did at first. We were told that at best because of the amount the birth Mom had drank during this pregnancy he would be mentally retarded however Christopher is above average and if he can't get somewhere he drags toys over and climbs them to get what he wants. He can open most baby gates so we had to buy the metal ones. He is very active and strong but most of all he is very happy and spoiled. He sleeps with my husband and I and is very comfortable there.
Christopher's 1st birthday
with his favorite toy.

The biological parental rights were terminated on the father, the birth Mom signed off on her rights. A few months later they filed to terminate their rights for Peanut/Christopher our youngest. Both were incarcerated at that time and upon being served in court with the papers they both signed him over. That was a huge weight off of my shoulders to say the least. It was one among many days with our boys I will never forget, what a wonderful surprise!
Robert and I with our boys in Oct. 2008

These are a few of the things we have dealt with during the first year with our boys. Along with all the negative things there have also been so many positive things. These three boys have been such blessings to my husband and to myself. We will continue to learn as much and we can and we are also trying to educate teen girls about the effects of alcohol. We are both very committed to helping these boys have the best life possible. I know we will make mistakes but we pray our love for them will over come the those things. At the end of our first year we had a "We Are A Family" party this was because we were not able to adopt them as quickly as we would have liked and to help mainly Tyler know that we would be his family forever.

We also take the boys shopping, out to eat and Tyler and the baby are in church every Sunday with me.
The cake from our 1st year anniversary party with our boys
Not the end, This is only the beginning...

Our first year with our three sons