Rapid City, SD—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), a founding member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), today honored Newell’s Randy and Nora Boesem as his 2011 Angels in Adoption. After presenting Nora and a few of her children with a pin and certificate from the CCAI, Johnson discussed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which affects all nine of the Boesem’s adopted children.
“After being inspired by their story, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Nora Boesem and her family today and present her with this much-deserved recognition,” Johnson said. “As we heard from Dr. Usera, it is very challenging to raise a child suffering from FASD, let alone nine. This family has gone out of their way to improve the lives of many South Dakota children, including those with special needs, and is the epitome of Angels in Adoption.”
Johnson also participated in a briefing and discussion about FASD led by Dr. Helen Usera of the Chiesman Foundation. The purpose of the FASD Center is to improve long term social, emotional, academic and health outcomes for individuals with FASD and their families. The center identifies resources that exist in South Dakota and the nation for children and adults with FASD and provides related trainings and workshops for caregivers, educators and service providers.
FASD is an umbrella term that describes a range of physical and mental birth defects that can occur in a fetus when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Alcohol exposure during pregnancy is a leading cause of non-hereditary cognitive disability. People affected with these disorders face numerous medical, physical, educational, and financial challenges.
Nora Boesem was first exposed to the effects of FASD during her work as a nurse’s aide in the pediatrics unit of Rapid City Regional Hospital and has since become an outspoken advocate for children suffering from the disease. Nora established a support and advocacy group dedicated to helping families of children affected by FASD and also sits on the board of advisors of the FASD Center at Chiesman Center for Democracy in Rapid City.
Johnson has been an advocate for FASD prevention and last year introduced legislation to require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda, improve the ability to screen and identify disorders, and facilitate the development of statewide systems and projects to determine and implement the best practices for educating children with FASD within the school system, as well as educating professionals about services for children.