This is My Story
By: Chanel Torres
My name is Chanel Torres. I was born with FAS. My mission is to help those who are living and dealing with FAS and to stop FAS in unborn babies. To do this, I spend my free time giving presentations at local schools, hospitals, Juvenile Detention Centers, nursing programs and many other facilities. I educate as many people as I can on FAS and to give them a chance to get to know me and my struggles and to help spread the word about FAS. I have received many awards and certificates of appreciation for my hard work in delivering my message. These awards are great, but the biggest award I can get is to know my message is being delivered and helping many people and unborn babies out there. When I made the decision to talk about FAS I was so excited because my goal in life is to completely put an end to FAS. If I could prevent one more child from this awful syndrome, I would be happy, but my ultimate goal is to get the word out there to young people that even one alcoholic drink can hurt your unborn baby. I want everyone to know about the effects alcohol has on the fetus. FAS is 100% preventable. I hope to one day be able to speak on one of the day time talk shows. I know this will allow me to get my message to a much larger audience.
I was diagnosed with FAS in 1989. My birth mom drank every day while she was pregnant with me. It was very VERY hard for my birth mom to give me up for adoption because she loved me so much and wanted me to have a better life then she could give me since she was an alcoholic, so she did. I was delivered to my adoptive parents at the age of three weeks old by a child protective service worker and a public health nurse. I spent the first three weeks of life in the hospital, battling a host of FAS related problems, for example, low birth weight, feeding problems, respiratory distress, inadequate development of my lungs, and hypoxia. My adoptive parents were told that the amniotic fluid in which I bathed in for thirty two weeks, reeked of alcohol. I was unable to relax and over responded to verbal and tactile stimulation. I cried often. Because I was diagnosed early, my adoptive parents were able to get me the help I needed at a very young age. I received PT, OT, Speech therapy and a special education teacher that came to my home when I was just 6 months old. My new family gave me a stable home, which is very important for the growth and development of any child but especially for a child with FAS. Children who live in an abusive or unstable home, with their alcoholic families, may repeat that bad behavior. Because most children with FAS are at risk for unemployment and often don’t graduate from high school, I was looking forward to my graduation day. I worked so hard for it. FAS Will be with me for life! There is no cure! I still struggle with the effects of FAS I have trouble concentrating and learning. I have tremors so it makes it difficult to write . I get frustrated easily, and have problems with my memory. My growth problems make me smaller then most kids my age. I also make some bad choices sometimes and have to learn some hard lessons. One of the big problems I have is a speech problem that makes me stutter. Because of all of these problems, I have a hard time keeping friends, and during high school, I got made fun of often. These are problems that will never go away. FAS is irreversible. Living with FAS is VERY difficult and sometimes I wish I didn’t have it. I have to remind myself to stay positive and strong so I can help others just like me, and prevent any other innocent unborn child from suffering with FAS.
My dream is to have a law passed that women who drink while pregnant should be monitored closely by a social worker and have mandated weekly alcohol and drug testing. if they fail an alcohol or drug test then they should be placed in an in-house treatment center until the baby is born. I know it is very expensive to set up these treatment centers but if you think about the long term outcome, Billions of dollars would be saved. Social Security and Medicaid would save Americans Billions of dollars. It cost approximately 2.2 Billion dollars each year for medical care, foster care, Juvenile Detention Centers, and other fees for children with FAS each year. If that law had been in effect when my birth mom was pregnant with me, then I would not be diagnosed with FAS today and I could fulfill my dream of becoming a veterinarian, get married, drive a car, and live a normal life. I have the same dreams that most of you have but because of my diagnoses, it’s very hard for me to learn the way other people do.
My advice, my plea, is that you PLEASE PLEASE do not drink while you are pregnant, even if you plan on giving your baby up for adoption. Let your baby fulfill his or her dreams and live a happy healthy life without the struggles of FAS. For all the fathers to be, you play an important role in the too. You must be encouraging and supporting. Staying away from alcohol yourself would be helpful. After all, this is your baby also. If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, avoiding all alcohol is best because some woman may be pregnant and not know, especially if it is early on.
If you are a child with FAS, I want you to remember that you did not ask to be born with FAS. But it is something you have to deal with. My tips are to keep a routine, try not to get too stressed out, take it slow, take a break when you need one, and take dome deep breaths. If you need someone to talk to I am here for you. I am fighting for you and for all the unborn babies. Just click here to email me. I will respond as quickly as possible.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my story, for allowing me to be an advocate for the unborn babies, and for allowing me to share my story with you. Now I would like to ask that all of you share this story with your friends, neighbors and anyone you think might benefit from my story. The more people I can educate, the more babies I can save from this awful syndrome and the suffering that goes along with FAS. This is my story. This is my life.