Adopting a Child Who Was Prenatally Exposed in Utero

Most children who are placed for adoption come from unplanned pregnancies. Sometimes, when an expecting mom is unaware she is pregnant, she may take substances that are very harmful to an unborn child. In certain instances, the expecting mom may be aware of the child and still continue an unhealthy lifestyle. 

An unborn child depends on its mother for food and nutrients. Unfortunately, when the expecting mom consumes drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or even certain medications, harmful chemicals can be passed along to the child as well. 

This is referred to as prenatal exposure.  

When an unborn baby is exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero, a variety of side effects can occur. Fetal alcohol syndrome, for example, is the result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome can show signs of neurological damage, growth problems, and even specific facial characteristics.  

Children who have been prenatally exposed are often born early, resulting in them being underweight. They can even experience drug withdrawal symptoms. This is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). 

Sometimes, the long-term effects of prenatal exposure are quite obvious. Other, they are very subtle. If you’re a waiting family that’s considering adopting a child who was exposed in utero, it’s important to understand the situation and what this means for the child. 

Parenting a Child with Prenatal Exposure 

The exact conditions and developmental issues a child may experience due to exposure can vary depending on what the mother took while she was pregnant. It’s hard to know the full extent of the effects while the child is a still a baby. 

That said, ADHD and other attention disorders are common among children exposed in utero. These children may have trouble focusing in traditional classrooms, staying on task, and listening during conversations. Medications can help, but further guidance and care is often needed. 

Children with prenatal exposure sometimes, but not always, struggle with learning language and/or remembering things. 

Whatever conditions the child may have, it’s important to remember that this does not make them less. A child who has endured prenatal exposure is just as valuable as a child who was not prenatally exposed. Like any child, they simply require you to be attentive. Learn their patterns, their strengths, and their struggles, and from there, adjust your parenting methods. 

These children will could need more structure, extra time to process, and more direct attention. It’s important to remember this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just different. Every child learns differently and has needs that are unique to them. 

At Choosing Hope Adoptions, we closely monitor the health history and conditions of the expecting parents we work with. Children who have experienced prenatal exposure are no less wonderful or worthy of adoption. However, we believe the adoptive parents need to know this beforehand so they can parent well. 

With Choosing Hope Adoptions, you can always expect full transparency. We also act as a resource, equipping you with the tools and information needed to handle what’s ahead. If you’re looking for an adoption agency in Cincinnati, Ohio or any other Ohio community, Choosing Hope Adoptions is here for you. Contact us today! 

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