(DRAFT) In January of 2002 I woke from a vivid dream that my wife, Kim, and I were handed a blanket by a stranger. When we took the blanket, we discovered there was a baby boy wrapped inside. Soon after, we where surrounded by friends and family, including a little girl who started playing with this boy. There was a May Pole Dance with kids in Shakespeare outfits, The atmosphere was charged with much love and support for these children. Not long after all the warmth in this controlled environment, the two children started to grow in an exponential sort of way — so much so we had to take them outside the building. Their exponential growth continued and they soon where taller than the building. I wrote the dream down in a journal, but honestly did not connect the dream to real kids.
In August that year, Kim and I were attending a conference. The MC of the conference started out with what seemed like a spontaneous prayer. He was asking anyone who would like prayer for infertility to please stand. I grabbed Kim’s hand. We desired children. We had been married a few years, there was plenty of passion, there were no medical reasons not to have children, yet no children.
Just before the conference we met a lady who, when we sat back down from the opening prayer, asked us if we would like to adopt. We were not on an adoption list. It was not even on our minds to adopt, yet this new friend of maybe 30-minutes was asking us if we wanted to adopt. Kim tells me I blurted out — YES! As the word yes was coming out of my mouth, I remembered the dream.
In October, just a few months after we had been asked to adopt, Sam was born! All the legal aspects were completely done by the time he was born that allowed us to take him home from the hospital as our son. Two years later the same birth mom asked us if we would like to adopt his sister. We were in the delivery room for Mathea’s birth. Pretty cool.
As the kidos grew, Kim and I enrolled them in a private school knowing Sam needed a smaller and safer environment. Unknown to us, part of the school’s end-of-year celebration included a Shakespeare Festival — featuring a May Pole Dance. Whether school or parenting all seemed like normal routines that held joys and challenges of pouring love into children. However, as Sam got older, we started experiencing more and more unexplained disruptive behaviors, both at school and especially at home. We had tried a long list of engaging Sam in this this therapy and that therapy. Sam appeared to connect intellectually with the therapy tools he was to use while in the sessions, however when he got home, it all went out the window so to speak — nothing worked to calm his outburst.
Fast forward to right after Sam turned 14, there was an incident that was serious, serious enough to explore if the birth-mother’s alcohol consummation during pregnancy had anything to do with explaining his disruptive behaviors. We really Kim and I did not really know anything about FASD. In fact I did not know what the acronym stood for, I might have had a very small clue of what Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder was if someone used the full usage — but not what FASD looked like or any of the behaviors associated with it. A few months after the incident we started to learn the magnitude and prevalence of this issue in the US and globally. Sam’s neuropsychiatric evaluation identified ARND (Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder). ARND is one of the four main specific diagnosis that falls under the umbrella of FASD.
Now on a quest to learn how to help Sam, Kim and I started to learn about a Brain-based approach, sometimes referred to as a Neurological Based (NB) approach. The chaos when from everyday craziness to once a week. Our parenting had to shift away from traditional strategies, our paradigm had to shift on how Sam’s brain was/is wired, bottom line was Sam’s environment need to better accommodate his brian wiring. FASD is a physical disability and in the case of Sam, an invisible disability. (Less than 20% of people on the FASD spectrum have external physical traits.)
With the research there there was a discovery that conservative estimate of 2% to 5% of the US population had FASD. The researcher estimate that only 1 in 1000 people are actually diagnosed. (Autism is less than 2% of the population.) The research also revealed 50% of prison populations for both men and women have FASD, along with link to the epidemic of school classroom behavior issues.
Given the discovery in research, the dream about our kids, a passion to help my son succeed, an innate drive to help kids, my production experience as a commercial photographer & filmmaker — everything pointed to producing a documentary to shed light on the truth about FASD. It is hard to comprehend that FASD is so deeply woven into the fabric of our society and yet not known and/or misunderstood by the general public. I am excited to be a part of this important project called, Embraced which has the potential to be a catalyst for change in understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
(to do- ADD FAMILY PHOTO)