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2 Bumps

Developmental delays - how much to tell birth mom?

As some of you know, my son was exposed to meth for the entire prenatal period. We adopted him at 4 weeks, and he is 27 months now. He has some significant developmental delays in speech and cognition. He is having visits from a speech therapist three times a month to help him catch up. I am wondering what I should tell his birth mom. She chooses not to have face-to-face visits right now, so our contact is letters, pictures, and the occasional phone calls and e-mail. I don't want her to think I am hiding anything from her, but I also don't want her beating herself up over decisions that cannot be changed. She feels horrible about using during pregnancy.

Has anyone else dealt with this issue in an open adoption? Please, I hope not to see mean comments about what she did. I wish she hadn't, but so does she. We are moving forward and trying to help a precious little boy.


Asked by Iamgr8teful at 2:29 PM on Nov. 15, 2010 in Adoption

Level 25 (23,279 Credits)
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Answers (13)
  • I have no expertise in dealing with recovering addicts and think this might be a question for someone who is helping her. But, I have a strong belief in not protecting people by hiding things from them. No matter how she reacts, I think she should know truth. I believe people become stronger by handling tough things. There are many tough things in life and we all must learn to deal with them.

    Of course, you can be as tactful as possible about how you share this info with her. You can tell her about his issues without detailing why he has them. Won't she know anyway?

    Answer by Southernroots at 12:20 AM on Nov. 16, 2010

  • That's a tough one. I am not an adoptive mom nor a birth mom but I have been a surrogate 3 times, using my own eggs.
    I think in the long run I'd want to know but I certainly would feel guilty about it. And especially knowing that your birth mom was a meth user, she will most definitely feel guilty.
    Maybe that will turn out to be good thing, if she has more kids in the future, she will know how important it is to stay clean??

    Answer by Roadfamily6now at 2:37 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • My son's birth mom was not too receptive about delays. She took that as being against her that he was in speech. It was a big fat clue she wasn't ready to hear that info. She was defensive and said none of her other kids had any issues. End of subject loud and clear. Perhaps saying he in therapy, lots of kids have therapy, and say the goal without focusing on the delay. Lots of kids are born from healthy situations and still have those issues. So focusing on the why is not necessary. We know poor prenatal health, drug exposure, ect.....but the why is less important than the goal. If prognosis is good and progress is seen - focus on the positive aspect. Or if instict says now isn't the time...well instict has been knowntobe helpful. Go with your gut on this one.

    Answer by frogdawg at 6:32 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • You know her best.I think you have the correct idea; kind of a need to know basis.I suspect she will eventually, if not sooner, put it all together on her own..If she is working on sobriety she is already aware of the destruction she has caused around her.She needs to become and stay sober so that if your son should need to know things from her she will be able to answer him.Purposely setting her back serves no purpose.You are on the right track in my opinion.Good wishes for your son!!!


    Answer by drfink at 6:19 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • I have been very up front with our son's birth mom about his speech delays. I said that he was delayed in speech, but that it was very common in boys and nothing to get worked up over. Since ECI only works with them until 3 y/o, you HAVE to start close to 2 (we were at 21 months) and who knows? He could have started on his own later. I've seen many moms w/o PNE on CM on whose children suffer speech delays for various reasons. I just tell her that he's improving, and that he's super-smart (which he is, LOL), he understands quite a bit more than he verbalizes, but again.....sometimes it's just the boys' nature. And they mimic dads, so if dad doesn't talk a lot, neither do sons. The main thing to focus on is that it's common and you are taking precautions. I never related it to her usage, and if she did....I hope it helps her make better choices in the future. As drfink said, though, you know her better. Use your own judgment. :)

    Answer by doodlebopfan at 10:27 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • What about if you just tell her what he is doing, not what he isn't doing. "Peanut is working really hard at learning to walk, his legs are getting stronger every day and with the help of the physical therapist, we think he's going to be able to stand on his own any day now." (This might be a totally inappropriate step for your son, but this is just an example that came into my head.) Or, "He's not quite to the point of saying words, he is trying, he can point to something he likes, like the dog or his favorite toy, and make a UNH sound, so the speech therapist tells us he should be saying words in a few months." You're not lying and you're just reporting the facts. But you are also offering hope that whatever it is is expected to happen, even if it is a long time away.

    I think she would want to know what is going on with him, and you can't control her feelings about it. But you should report it. Good luck!

    Answer by TwoBrownDogs at 11:50 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • We chose to share the information with our son's birth mother but TwoBrownDogs suggests, put a positive spin on what's happening. Talk about the progress he's making, skills where there aren't any delays, etc. I wouldn't talk at all about suspected causes. Some kids who have no drug exposure at all still have delays, particularly in speech. It just happens. You might also include some discussion on goals/expectations. For example, "we expect he'll be fully caught up before he enters kindergarten" or some other appropriate wording. Shows that the delays aren't the end of the world.

    Answer by momofryan07 at 7:05 PM on Nov. 16, 2010

  • Personally I would have told her when I found out he has issues. Told her the truth. In a round about way it was her fault.
    Just e-mail her and tell her. He has issues.

    Answer by louise2 at 2:41 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • she needs to know, whether it hurts her feelings or not, b/c it didn't seem to phase her when she was doing it while she was pregnant. hopefully she has learned and could educate others on the reprocussions of drug use while pregnant b/c now you're the one paying for it.

    Answer by SMWOODS at 2:45 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

  • My concern is that addicts often hate themselves and their lives, but find it almost impossible to stay clean long-term. They often punish themselves by continuing the self-destructive behaviors. I'm concerned about what she might do (to herself) if she has this new knowledge to refresh her guilt. I will have to tell her, but I'm trying to figure out how much to say and how to say it. Maybe in my next letter I could just say that he's a little behind in his language development and we have a speech therapist working with him, and leave it at that unless she asks.

    Comment by Iamgr8teful (original poster) at 2:54 PM on Nov. 15, 2010

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