The highlights of the meeting were:
1) Foster mom is now fighting hard to keep the child. She has hired an attorney. She has asked for an injunction. It's not clear what standing a judge will give her in the case. The Department's point of view is that she has had 3 years to adopt this child and they do not trust her ability to commit to him at this point. They think she's still torn between wanting to keep him and knowing she's not able to do so financially or emotionally. The child's attorney supports the Department's decision. We plan to talk to the Department's attorney to find out more about the legal standing of all the parties. We hope to talk to the child's attorney to confirm her support of the Department.
2) The little guy has some cognitive delays, which so far appear mild, and he is pretty hyperactive. He also has difficulty focusing for more than short periods of time. It may be ADHD. It may be the after-effects of being prenatally exposed to cocaine and, because of mom's addiction, being born almost 8 weeks premature. It may be that, in addition to smoking crack, mom drank while pregnant and he has FASD.
That last possibility is the most worrying to me. The birth history in the evaluations say mom possibly drank while pregnant. This isn't confirmed in hospital records and it's not clear where this notion came from, but it does make sense. A woman who uses crack while pregnant is not likely to say no to alcohol. Little Guy doesn't have the facial features of FASD (with the exception of a thinner top lip), but I know that the facial features are only present if mom drank heavily during the first trimester. The most heartbreaking part of FASD, the brain damage, happens throughout pregnancy and can be present without the facial features. He has many characteristics of the neurological damage of FASD. At the same time, he has many characteristics of ADHD. FASD is often first misdiagnosed as ADHD. I know kids with FASD can have good lives, but the reality is that dealing with FASD gets harder as kids get older and most are not able to live independently. We would tackle the job of raising a child with FASD if we adopted a child and later found out he had FASD, but it's not something we would choose to take on. It's the reason we previously turned down the placement of the two year old girl. ADHD, learning delays, developmental delays, motor issues, allergies-these I can do.
I don't know why, but I didn't think this would be so hard. With the legal issue ongoing and the possibility of FASD, I really don't know what our decision will be. I hope that talking to Little Guy's pediatrician and the attorneys will give me a few more answers. What I would give for a crystal ball right now!
Oh, and Little Guy looks like a total cutie in his photos.