Shalom Life | June 12, 2015

Exclusive: An Interview With Author Linda Rosenbaum

Rosenbaum discusses her new book 'Not Exactly as Planned' which tackles the challenges of raising a child with fetal alcohol syndrome

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: June 11th, 2015 in Culture » Books » News

Exclusive: An Interview With Author Linda Rosenbaum

Photo: Linda Rosenbaum


If you’re looking for the next great read, then look no further. Linda Rosenbaum’s new book Not Exactly As Planned is full of heartbreak and triumph as she navigates the rocky road of adoption and raising a son with fetal alcohol syndrome. This critically acclaimed book talks about her son Michael, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and his battle with alcohol abuse long before he’s old enough to take a sip.

We at Shalom Life got a chance to speak with Rosenbaum about the inspiration for her new book, the challenges of fetal alcohol syndrome, and navigating the waters of adoption.

Shalom Life: What was the inspiration for writing Not Exactly As Planned?

Linda Rosenbaum: Over the years, people have encouraged me to write a book about our family, particularly about raising our son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). As a writer, I did have a story to tell, but I think a memoir needs a broader, more universal theme.

I knew I was not the only person whose life didn’t go exactly as once planned, and thought that by telling our family’s story, I could touch upon the feelings of hope, loss and acceptance that so many of us experience while trying to adjust to some of our unexpected realities.

I grew up in the US in the 1960s, in a time of turbulent political and social upheaval. Like many idealistic individuals in my generation, I believed that the world could be changed for the better. In later years, while raising our adopted son – diagnosed with FASD when he was six – I learned the hard truth many in my generation learned: we can’t fix all that is broken.

This was a hard reality for me to face, and one that I’ve come to learn is common for many people, not only those of us who have children with disabilities. Our challenge is to live with the reality of our lives, rather than what we may have once hoped for.

Besides the personal reasons for writing my story, I also wanted to make people more aware of FASD, the most common, yet preventable cause of developmental disability in North America.


Most people, including many doctors and social service workers, remain unaware of FASD and the profound effects it has on individuals and their families. It’s been my hope that my book will bring comfort and hope to families struggling to raise children with FASD and other special needs, and give professionals who work with these families a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges we live with.

What was the hardest part of writing the book? And what was the most rewarding?

The most difficult part about writing the book was reliving past experiences that I would have preferred not to revisit. But I knew that the poignancy of those moments, told honestly, bring the emotional honesty and authentic drama needed to make a memoir compelling. There was no point in writing a memoir if I was going to gloss over the tough stuff. And editors can tell when you’re leaving the juicy stuff out, anyways!

One particular chapter I found rough to write was when we took Michael to the Hospital for Sick Kids to find out if there was a diagnosis to explain his many physical, emotional and behavioural problems. He was six. After a series of tests and interviews, Michael was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – brain damage caused by the alcohol his birth mother drank while pregnant with him. I could barely write a word in this chapter without crying.

Some people say it’s cathartic to write about the difficult times in your life. I personally didn’t find that to be true. I’m happy for other people that they should they be so lucky. Fortunately, I had a lot of joyous family moments to write about as well.

Another difficult part about writing the book was ensuring that my family members were comfortable that so many details of our family’s life, including the difficult ones, would become public. My husband, who has been a filmmaker his whole life, gave me complete editorial reins. Our daughter Sarah was a bit wary about me including some material, particularly about her teenage years, and I respected her wishes about what went into the book and what did not. If Sarah was truly upset about something, I left it out. My “art” will never be more important than my family.

The hardest part of the permission process was getting Michael to understand why I was writing the book, and that it would include stories about his disabilities, and how our family dealt with them. I knew Michael most likely would never read the book, because he’s not much of a reader, so it was essential to let him know in advance what it was going to be about.

Click Here to Continue Reading

WATCH: LeBron James & Amy Schumer Talk Cleveland in New 'Trainwreck' Trailer WATCH: LeBron James & Amy Schumer Talk Cleveland in New 'Trainwreck' Trailer TrendingPharrell Williams Most Likely Coming to Israel Pharrell Williams Most Likely Coming to Israel Trending'Power Rangers' Reboot Will Feature Some of Your Favorite Characters 'Power Rangers' Reboot Will Feature Some of Your Favorite Characters Trending
 

Ten Disabled Bar Mitzvah Boys Denied Ceremony due to Religious Rift

June 12, 2015 | By Itamar Eichner
Ten Disabled Bar Mitzvah Boys Denied Ceremony due to Religious Rift

Ten autistic children have been preparing for their coming of age ceremony for past six months, but event will likely be cancelled following dispute involving Conservative and Orthodox rabbis and President's Residence

Read More

TripAdvisor CEO Says Jerusalem is His Favorite Destination in the World

June 12, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
TripAdvisor CEO Says Jerusalem is His Favorite Destination in the World

Jewish CEO Stephen Kaufer recalls his trip to Israel with his late wife

Read More

Hidden Irish Anti-Semitism Exposed in Undercover Video

June 12, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Hidden Irish Anti-Semitism Exposed in Undercover Video

Irish businesses willing to work with human rights violators Iran, North Korea, but not Israel

Read More

WATCH: LeBron James & Amy Schumer Talk Cleveland in New 'Trainwreck' Trailer

June 12, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
WATCH: LeBron James & Amy Schumer Talk Cleveland in New 'Trainwreck' Trailer

James seems to be a pretty capable actor judging from trailers for Judd Apatow movie coming out on July 17th

Read More

Hulu is Creating a Replica of Jerry Seinfeld's Apartment For Fans to Hang Out In

June 12, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Hulu is Creating a Replica of Jerry Seinfeld's Apartment For Fans to Hang Out In

From June 24th - 28th, you'll be able to visit Jerry's place on West 14th Street in New York City

Read More

New Sprite Cans Feature Lyrics From Drake, Biggie, Nas & Rakim

June 12, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
New Sprite Cans Feature Lyrics From Drake, Biggie, Nas & Rakim

Because, after all, you get pretty thirsty when you're running through the 6ix with your woes

Read More

12 of the Coolest New Israeli Apps

June 11, 2015 | By Abigal Klein Leichman
12 of the Coolest New Israeli Apps

In honor of Israel Mobile Week, we look at a dozen made-in-Israel apps that could make your life healthier, more fun, and more efficient

Read More

More Headlines