If you're looking for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) you have come to the right place. We have some exciting news about our organization. We have a new name! MOFAS has officially been renamed Proof Alliance. Our mission remains the same: to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and to improve the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
We now have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading cause of brain injury in children. We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable and people living with an FASD can reach 100% of their potential.
We seek to build powerful alliances with people with an FASD, their families, legislators, experts in the field, new partners, and community members to bring awareness, research, and services to this field.
Proof Alliance is rebranding, expanding, and we're moving! We have a new logo, website, and prevention campaign to help change the norms around drinking during pregnancy. And in May 2019 we will be moving to a stand-alone building. Proof Alliance commits to the people of Minnesota and we will continue to develop transformative programs to help Minnesotans impacted by FASD.
By: Robert Reedy
First I want to say thank you to the staff at MOFAS, the excellent presenters, the engaged professionals, and the wonderful families that helped make this year’s conference such a great experience. I learned so much and met so many great people and during the conference I think I discovered some of my own stigma about FASD.
Stigma is a very real thing for people with an FASD and their families. I have always known this and tried hard not to endorse it. In the last months, in those quite personal conversations with people where the topic of FASD came up, I found myself referring to my child as “my adopted son with an FASD.” This struck me as odd as that in not my typical vernacular, usually I say, “my son” or “my child”. This is something that I have been very intentional about for many reasons and the unconscious shift was something I filed away for later analysis.
At this year’s conference the reason for this shift occurred to me. STIGMA!
On Friday as I sat and listened to the brave mother’s talk on stage, I was thinking how very hard it must be to do so. I was pondering if I would have the courage to do the same thing when the light of insight flicked on in my head. Am I using the term “Adopted” to provide a safe refuge for myself and my wife. By saying “my adopted son,” am I saying, “I’m not to blame?”
Blame and shame are the hallmarks of stigma. They keep kids from getting the supports they need, they keep mother’s from being with their children, and they keep society making the same mistakes over and over. By distancing myself, by taking safe refuge, I think I have been endorsing stigma in a subtle yet significant way. I am saying to the world, and my son, “don’t blame me for this bad thing.”
I made the choice to call my kids unconditionally mine many years ago. I committed to use language that would communicate this state to them and the world. I have another opportunity to make that commitment, I have a wonderful son, who brings joy and love into my existence every day, and he happens to have an FASD. There is no shame in this, only truth, and blame is neither healthy nor helpful, and support and prevention are both.
I am curious of other’s reactions. Is it stigma driving my language choice? Am I missing something? I appreciate your feedback. And again, thanks to MOFAS for the great conference. More importantly, I realized that one more group of people needed to be acknowledged, the people living with an FASD, who are the true inspiration and reason for what we do! I feel invigorated to keep doing what needs to be done!