#038 The Berrys: Transforming From Trauma

fasd success show Sep 14, 2020


What an episode we have for you today! If you are like my guests, Kristin and Mike Berry, from Honestly Adoption (formerly Confessions of an Adoptive Parent) and desire to do good and be good parents, and feel like no matter what, you are “doing it wrong” then you will want to tune in as we deep dive into their experience parenting eight adopted children. We also look at trauma and FASD.  

Mike and Kristin are authors, bloggers, speakers, parent coaches, adoptive parents, and former foster parents. They are passionate about reaching adoptive and foster parents around the globe with a message of hope and transformation. They are the creators of both an award-winning blog and podcast (links below). Between them, they have written nine books. They have been married for 21 years and have eight children, all of whom are adopted. They live on a farm in Indiana (USA).  

We are parenting very different kids from who were growing up and so that led...

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#037 Aliy Brown: Providing Supports in Scotland and Beyond

fasd success show Sep 06, 2020


Do you struggle to get medical professionals to listen to you? 

Are you looking for ideas about what you could implement in your community to help caregivers? 

Do you know why Scotland is leading the charge on FASD in the United Kingdom? 

If you want to know the answers to these questions, you are going to want to tune into today’s podcast with Aliy Brown. 

Aliy holds a BA (Hon) in Social Policy from Newcastle University. Currently, she is the Project Manager for FASD Hub Scotland, a support service run by Adoption UK Scotland for all parents and carers across Scotland who are parenting individuals with FASD and the networks and professionals who support these families. Aliy and her husband are parents and home educators to three children who are adopted, one with an FASD diagnosis. Aliy is passionate about raising awareness of FASD, breaking down the barriers for parents/carers, and empowering all those who have an interest in...

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#036 The Dougherty Dozen Doesn’t Quit

fasd success show Aug 30, 2020

A couple of weeks ago FASD made the cover of PEOPLE magazine. And boy did that create some conversations in our private Facebook Group. There were two camps: those that thought it was amazing that FASD made it to the cover of an international magazine – and those that were disappointed in the “sunshine and rainbows” slant the article seemed to take. 

So I went straight to the source. Well, thanks to some help from another caregiver who knew them. Alicia and Josh Dougherty are parents to 10 children – six adopted (with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and four biological children. Their journey was not, and is not sunshine and rainbows. In fact, their first adopted son started with extreme physical violence towards Alicia when she was pregnant. After receiving a diagnosis, Alicia wondered how she had not known. 

When you get hit with that diagnosis you are so overwhelmed and washed over with, What does this look like for the rest of their...

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#035 Amy Patterson: Solutions for Siblings

fasd success show Aug 23, 2020


This is definitely a topic of great interest for caregivers. Lately, there have been requests for more information on how to help siblings navigate, respond, and manage their relationship with a brother or sister who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. You asked … I delivered! But before we get going, maybe hit pause and gather your kids so they can listen and learn from someone who has been there! 

Amy Patterson has a younger brother with FASD. It was this relationship that ignited her passion to work with children who present with externalizing behaviour. She grew up immersed in the everyday stress that her brother faced due to developmental, social, emotional, and cognitive deficits, and the resulting impact it had on the entire family. Even at a young age, she felt like the world around him could and should do a lot better in setting him up for success. Accordingly, this reality led to her obtaining a Bachelor of Applied Child Studies degree and...

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#034 Niki Marshall: A Bad A$$ Birth Mom

fasd success show Aug 15, 2020


What picture comes to mind when you think of a birth mom of a child with prenatal alcohol exposure? The fact is whatever you thought, there is no one version. There are thousands of stories of birth moms. But the one thing I do know is any birth mom I have ever met has never wanted to intentionally hurt their child, and today’s guest is no exception. 

Niki Marshall had a troubled youth. As a result, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol at 13, kicked out of school at 14, and living on her own at 15. All the time seeking to self-medicate an undiagnosed mental health disorder. Eventually settling into a relationship, being told she nor her partner could have children, she found out on a visit to a doctor she was 4 months pregnant. We talk about what that was like for her when she found out and what she did immediately, as well as: 

  • The challenges of parenting a child with a misdiagnosis of autism and the often frustrating, and lonely journey from an...
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#033 Sara Messelt: Arming FASD Advocates

fasd success show Aug 09, 2020


Sometimes I go on Twitter – not much – but what I do notice is there are a lot of people who talk about how the system needs to change but then they don’t do anything about it. My guest on today’s podcast – Sara Messelt, the Executive Director of PROOF Alliance - saw a need, gathered resources, and together they did something about it. I hope you will be as inspired as I am by the end of this episode to invite or join others and go make a change in your community. 

Sara’s origin story is a little different. She started her passion for FASD through a desire to ensure healthy families by volunteering for March of Dimes while in high school in a Youth Peer Education Network! She graduated with a degree in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota then worked with the March of Dimes for 18 years. She has spent the last 20 years with the former Minnesota Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) – now known...

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#032 Dr. Jacquie Pei: Towards Healthy Outcomes: A Brand New FASD Intervention Model

fasd success show Aug 02, 2020


I know I say every episode is my favourite and they are – but this one is another home run in terms of a professional that truly not only gets FASD but she hits it out of the ballpark. 

Dr. Pei’s information is science-backed and tested in clinical settings. She has also created an awesome document as a roadmap for success for individuals on the Spectrum. 

In fact, the analogy of cars and roads, and the journey is exactly how she describes her document. But before we get there, we cover a lot of ground (did you see what I did there?), including: 

  • Dr. Pei’s origin story – or how she came to know about and work in the FASD field; 
  • Digging deeper into what a neuropsychological assessment is and the benefits of a reassessment;
  • The importance of being a brain detective when examining behaviour – or symptoms - of the disability; and 
  • Advice on getting the assessment and how to present information to other...
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#031 Annette Kunzman - A Moth to a Flame or Helping Teens Transition 

fasd success show Jul 26, 2020


Annette Kunzman co-founded FASD Network of Southern California in 2010 and was integral in establishing it as a non-profit organization in 2014. She has served as Secretary and Treasurer and currently as President. Annette holds a Master’s in Management degree from Northwestern University and received her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska. She was certified as a Chartered Financial Analyst in 1988.  


Following a long career in commercial lending and investment management, Annette retired in 2006 to focus full-time on raising her young sons with Fetal Alcohol. In 2019, Annette was named to the California Department of Education’s Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.  

We know caregivers spend years knowing their child is struggling, but not getting the support or appropriate diagnosis they need. Annette is no different. She poignantly shares her story of her...

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#030 Sheila Burns: Turning Regret into Momentum   

fasd success show Jul 19, 2020


I’ve interviewed and learned from a lot of people over the years, but this latest podcast guest has an interesting perspective and an engaging way. This is one of my 10 timer episodes – you will want to listen at least 10 times to unpack everything Sheila Burns has to say. 

I first saw Sheila present at a Conference in Northern Ontario. She tells me her background in children’s mental health, women’s health, and community development has informed the emerging vision for FASD prevention and improved intervention in her province of Ontario (Canada). To build capacity, she developed tools to guide and reinforce best practices.  One of these tools is the My Kind of Mind booklet which we delve into later.  

Sheila has held leadership roles to address individual and systemic issues related to FASD in Ontario since 1998 including FASD Ontario Network of Expertise – Network Chair and Leads on the Diagnostic and Justice...

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#029 Ali McCormick: FASD Service (Dogs) with a Smile

fasd success show Jul 12, 2020
What a fun episode this is - because come on - who doesn’t love dogs - especially assistance dogs who help individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. 
Ali McCormick has gone from dog trainer to Foster Carer to FASD Caregiver to Social Worker to Assistance Dog Trainer. And what a wild ride it’s been for her and her family.
Ali, like most of our caregivers and professionals, learned about FASD after she adopted her daughter Jane, who came from an adoption breakdown. Eventually, she and her husband adopted Jane’s two siblings, all with FAS. She has fostered 36 children and raised 7 children but nothing prepared her for the journey she was about to embark on with the sibling trio.
It’s much easier for those that should know, to blame the parents, then it is to look at the failed system and their lack of education.
We talk about:
  • her journey to become a social worker to try and change the system - but...
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