I'm just wondering who out there has experience or information on how different drugs (Cocaine, marijuana, etc.) have on an unborn baby. We are trying to decide what situations we will be open to in this area, and need more information.
Both my children were exposed to Meth and Marijuana. One thing I notice is strong sensitivity to just about everything. This is something I battle in my own life (I was exposed to marijuana). Sometimes I feel like my clothes are made of sandpaper. Loud sounds hurt. Bright lights make me cringe. Strong tastes are painful and cause me to gag easily. All tags have to be completely removed from my clothes. With my kids, I just had to isolate what was bothering them and change the stimulus. There was lots of swaddling involved with my daughter. In my experience, Meth tends to cause problems with attention and behavior. My son has poor impulse control but I am working on it with him. He is only 3 so I am sure I haven't seen the worst of it. I have no experience with cocaine exposure.
I'm just wondering who out there has experience or information on how different drugs (Cocaine, marijuana, etc.) have on an unborn baby. We are trying to decide what situations we will be open to in this area, and need more information.
I'm Mom to two kiddos who were exposed prenatally to alcohol and other drugs of unknown quantities. We do believe that crack cocaine and marijuana, and nicotine were all a part of it. The most important thing to note is that alcohol, a legal substance, is most probably the most damaging since it actually crosses the placenta.
But you asked about cocaine and marijuana. It all depends on how much and when, and the baby's metabolism, the mother's metabolism and nutritional intake during pregnancy. All those things affect how a substance can and does affect the development of the child, and the lasting effects on that child.
Some links:
[URL=""]National center for Substance Abuse and Child Welfare[/URL]
[URL=""]National Institute of Drug Abuse[/URL]
Writers such as Brenda McCreight (see her on amazon) and Gregory Keck are good too.
Most of my experience with books etc focus on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome since one of my children has that as an initial diagnosis, but these sites might be of help with you making this decision. In most ways, it really is a tough decision and a leap of faith. One of our children seems to be doing very well, while the other struggles at this time quite significantly, especially when it comes to behaviors. Hope that helps a little.
You might peruse some of the posts on the Drug Exposed forum under the Special Needs and Attachment heading.
I've adopted four children, all of whom were exposed/addicted to a fairly large variety of substances. We were very careful when we adopted the first time, listing out what we believed we could and could not handle in parenting. Happily God knew better than we did and we were matched with a child whom we likely would have run screaming in fear if we'd known up front what his diagnoses would be. After that we adopted children born addicted to at least one drug, and exposed to multiple other drugs. The kids had significant delays and issues relating to being born addicted. Some of these issues have resolved with time, some have just morphed into other issues as the kids have gotten older. Some of our kids may not be able to live independently until much older than the 'average' young adult, if ever.
I can't tell what issues are related to which drugs, although perhaps I can attribute some things specifically to alcohol because alcohol is well documented, when compared to cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine.
Often children exposed to drugs have issues like dysfunction of sensory integration. You can Google that and find lots of info, but basically it is when the brain perceives input from the senses in an abnormal way.
One of my kids had sensory integration problems and perceived all touch as painful. He had "tactile defensiveness" and avoided touch (like hugs) and wearing clothes was a painful trial for him (elastic, tags, seams, the texture of certain materials). Some kids have an under-response (hyposensitivity) and some have an over-response (hypersensitivity) to some sort of sensory input, and many have problems in multiple sensory areas.
And then there's the biological vs. environmental question. (nature vs. nurture) Do kids have problems because of the drugs or because of their environment? I'll tell you now it's both, but there are whole books and academic studies trying to decide that question.
Then you have to add in all the other components that play a part, like maternal health/metabolism, the individual health/metabolism of the baby, genetics, and all the variables that there are in the world.
Most issues relating to drug and/or alcohol exposure come on a spectrum, from significant to minimal. It's often a scenario of preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Then just leaping out in faith, regardless. :) The healthies newborn may, for reasons unknown, have a significant learning disorder and struggle for years to do the 'simplest' academic things. Or any number of other unpredictable things.
My son has autism... which is commonly "co-morbid" with drug exposure. He also has SEVERE ADHD, also very common with stimulant addicted kids. When I say severe I mean he make a 'typically' presenting child with adhd seem calm, still and attentive. SEVERE! My son's diet during his unborn months was a steady stream of cocaine... with other things mixed it.
I talked with many Obgyns an pediatricians before we adopted and we discovered that there is no magical formula like baby + meth + pot = situationX. Each case is different but it is great to know the extremes so that you are prepared. My son was exposed to hydrocodine, pot, nicotine and caffine before birth. He went thru 6 weeks of methadone treatments. He is 6 mo and very intelligent and has no effects yet. His specialists seem to think he never will. I also had a dr just yesterday that said she sees a lot of babies that were born addicted and so many of them have very high IQs - also higher # of them have ADD or ADHD, but very smart! Do your research, be prepared, but prayer is your best defense against issues.
Our son was also exposed to marijuana, alcohol, and if I remember correctly, heroin as well.
As the last poster said, our son is INCREDIBLY smart. He's in Kindergarten, and reading 3rd Grade sight words. I read "The Chronicles of Narnia" to him at night, and about 2 months ago, he read the entire first page of one of the chapters to me...only missing maybe 3 words that were a bit larger. I was absolutely floored.
He's also incredibly good at math.
And he also has ADHD. (That's the official diagnosis.)
We really struggled for a long time not knowing what the issue was. We were told "Sensory Processing Disorder", "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome", "ADD", "ADHD", and maybe one or two other things.
It has been a real challenge especially for my wife, but after talking with our son's Kindergarten teacher and Principal, we explored the ADHD end of things a bit more. He's now taking medicine (after a lot of thinking and praying for wisdom on that), and it has made one heck of a difference. He's able to concentrate a lot better, and he's able to control his body a lot more (touching others, staying in line, bouncing off walls/the floor...literally). And...we can definitely tell when it wears off as well.
Prayer, support from other adoptive parents that have faced the same thing, and in some cases the right medication (and amount) can make a world of difference.
My babies were born with marijuana, alcohol, meth, and God only knows what. Now at the ages of 9 yrs. and 6 yrs. (3 grade and Kindergarten) both are straight A students. There are a few issues with both, like the tags on their clothes, etc. Both had been a blessing and I cherish everyday with them..
:o Weeellll, I think my kids are wonderful, and intelligent in many ways, but for some of them academically there are definite gaps and lags. We have four kids with varying degrees of exposure, from addicted to simply 'exposed'. There were lags during the first year for all of them. They've continued to progress and no one has plateaued - yet. But they all have some level of dysmaturity, have areas where they struggle, and we've had to work to maintain the environment that each needs to have in order to function at their best.
I guess it's like they say about autism: "If you've seen one kid with autism, you've seen one kid with autism." Same goes for drug exposed/addicted kids. If you've seen one, you've seen one. There aren't easy generalities that apply equally across the board.
I have adopted six kids. At least three had documentation or diagnosis of prenatal drug use/alcohol use. Two were born addicted to cocaine.
ADHD are challenges for the two born with cocaine. ADD and spelling issues - decoding are the challenges for the Fetal alcohol diagnosed AD.
My oldest AS, 23 years old, with ADHD is studying to be a nurse. He almost has his AS - one class away. He works with Developmentally Disabled Men. He is as skinny/muscular as you can get. He is gifted in music. A little bit of an adeneline junky.
My oldest daughter with ADD is now 14 yrs old. She just received the top score in the Florida Writes Test. She loves to read. Her art has received honors and has been in art shows. She has been accepted into the magnet school for technology and art. She won an award for higher math.
My youngest daughter with ADHD, had withdrawal for three months after birth. She had failure to thrive. She had to have soy based formula. She had pneumonia before age one. She had lung issues until she was two -Nebulizor treatments. She was born with a stiff shoulder and wrist. Physical therapy took care of that.
She is 5 yrs old, smart and ready to read. She knows math and letters and words. She just needs to put it together. Here in Florida, we even test the preschoolers - she was at 100%. Ready for Kindergarten.
I believe God holds these children in a special place. They should not made it by scientific standards. But they HAVE!!! Do they have needs and require out of the box teaching? Yes. But well worth it. They have incredible gifts to share with the world!
I would do it all again:)