The Sarnia Journal tells the story of Michelle Lariviere who adopted 4 children with FASD, and the support for families impacted by FASD offered by a local agency.

Michelle Lariviere says she’d do it all over again — raise four children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – despite the heartache.

“People ask me, would we do things differently. No, we wouldn’t,” she says, speaking as well for husband Paul.

The Larivieres adopted six children, four with varying physical, emotional and cognitive challenges caused by their biological mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol use during pregnancy is safe.

“You walk through so many dark days but there is light,” said Lariviere. “I feel badly when I see them struggling.

“For me, each child we have is so sweet, so loving, so caring, but they have everything going against them.”

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) effects 4% of Canada’s population, or 1.4 million people.

No two people with FASD have the same challenges and only 10% have obvious facial indicators, such as small eyes, a thin upper lip and smooth skin below the nose.

More often the disorder is identified because of troubled brain function that impacts academic achievement, motor skills, language, memory, thinking, and reasoning.

The Larivieres didn’t set out to adopt children with the disorder.

They adopted their first child while living in Sarnia. Their oldest does not have it.

“Then we moved to Alberta and wanted to adopt again,” she said. “My husband is part native, so we contacted First Nations.” Their second child does not have FASD.

When the biological mother of their second child gave birth, the baby was addicted to cocaine.

“The thinking at the time was that it is best to keep siblings together, so they asked if we’d take her,” Lariviere explained. “She never slept and her speech was delayed.”

That child was diagnosed with FASD at age 3.

After their third adoption, the couple took training for advanced foster care so they were equipped to handle kids with high needs. (Read more…)