help with adoption

Adoption Questions: About Drugs and Alcohol During Pregnancy

When the adoptive family knows your child’s medical history, they can make better decisions to support your child.

When you’re pregnant and considering adoption as an option for your baby, you likely have a lot of adoption questions. Some of the answers will come as you create your adoption plan. You may have questions that are specific to your circumstances, such as if you have used drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. It’s important to bring up all of your questions as the adoption proceeds.  This will help you and the adoptive parents work together to create a wonderful future for your baby.

Staying healthy helps you give birth to a healthy child.
Staying healthy helps you give birth to a healthy child.

Why the Expectant Mother’s Health Matters

As an expectant mother, you are your child’s first home. Taking care of yourself and getting prenatal care helps keep you and the baby healthy. Remember that your medical issues may also impact the health of your baby. There are many things that can impact your and your baby’s health.  This includes drug and alcohol use.  You might feel reluctant to share information about drug and alcohol use with the adoptive parents, but this discussion is essential for your child’s future.

What if I’ve Used Drugs or Alcohol During Pregnancy?

If your child has been exposed to drugs and alcohol before birth, understanding this can help the adoptive parents get ready for the time after birth. You want the adoptive family to have all the information they need to parent your baby in the best way possible, and this means that they need to understand the child’s medical history.   If medical staff know this, they can prepare to help your child transition off the drugs in the hospital.

If you’ve used alcohol during pregnancy, it’s not always obvious if your child has experienced effects of the alcohol use. Some children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are born with distinctive physical features that trigger doctors to assess them for this syndrome. Other children who’ve been exposed to alcohol before birth may have Fetal Alcohol Effect, which can cause brain changes but may not lead to obvious physical changes. Children with fetal alcohol effect can have an impaired memory, challenges controlling their impulses, and may have a hard time in school.  If you can be clear about your drug and alcohol use, then the adoptive parents will be better able to support your child in the future.

Disclosure Helps Your Child’s Adoptive Parents

If the child does not have physical symptoms and the adoptive parents don’t know about the expectant mother’s history of alcohol use during pregnancy, they may not suspect that the child has fetal alcohol effect. This means that it can be harder for them to support the child’s development and diagnosis. If you can be clear about your drug and alcohol use, then the adoptive parents will be better able to support your child in the future.

If you’ve used drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, will anyone want to adopt your baby? Yes! There are many families who are open to adopting children who may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol and who have support systems in place to help them parent your child.

Getting Support During Pregnancy

If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you’ll want to treat that during pregnancy to make sure that your baby has the best opportunity to be healthy. The same goes for drug and alcohol use. If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol before or during your pregnancy, it can be difficult to stop. You know that doing so would be best for your child, but you need support.

Disclosing your use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy can help you get the help you need. As a birth parent, you may have access to counseling. In some states, adoptive families are also able to provide funds to help a birth mother with her medical expenses. Letting people know that you need help managing your drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can help you get the help you need and can help make you and your baby healthier.

Contact Us

Are you pregnant and thinking about adoption for your baby? I can help. You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information. Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption. I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.


Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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