‘Today has been life changing’. Evie adoptive Mum to child with FASD.

‘I feel 10 times taller.’ Dave, adoptive Dad to child with FASD.

It was standing room only. 100 parents from all over the UK, with something very important in common: They were all raising children disabled by foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This could have been a heavy and distressing day. But every one of these 100 people is a passionate advocate for their children, and a pioneer in the diagnosis and needs of children with FASD. So in fact, the day was inspiring and full of hope.


Many of those who’d travelled to the conference were adoptive parents. As UK expert Dr Raja Mukherjee pointed out – the incidence of FASD in adopted and looked after children could be as high as 1 in 3.

The Scottish team will be following up with a policy forum later in the year. The forum will try to pin down exactly what needs to happen, at government, school and health services levels and beyond, to give the 2% of people in the UK with FASD a brighter future.

For parents like Ailsa and Dave Clarke, the conference was a chance to hear the latest thinking from experts about diagnosis and treatment, to meet up with other parents, and to meet Lee Harvey Heath, an adult living with FASD. Lee gave an inspiring talk about his journey from suicidal, homeless teenager to advocate and public speaker.

Lee Harvey Heath

Dave says: ‘Seeing Lee was quite a moment for us, because it gave us a window into the future. One of the things we love about our little boy is his humour. That shines through in Lee as well.’

Dave and Ailsa Clarke

Understanding and treatment of FASD is growing all the time. Families who are affected deserve the best possible support. It’s vital that we keep adoptive families at the heart of the debate.


A full report of the conference will be published in the June edition of Adoption Today. Materials from the conference, including film of keynote speeches and links to research and organisations that were referenced during the day, will be posted on the AUK website in the coming weeks.