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Birth Mothers Network - Circle of Hope

Image of a Warrior Woman on a yellow background.The Birth Mothers Network (BMN) was established to support and serve birth families affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence and National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) convened the first meeting of birth mothers in 2005. The vision, mission, and goals of the BMN are as follows:

  • Vision—To become a strong national network that will work to mentor women who are struggling with addiction and with the issues of having a child or children with an FASD.

  • Mission—To increase understanding and support for birth mothers and to strengthen recovery for women who drank during their pregnancies, as well as to support their families.

  • Goals—To (1) improve and strengthen the lives of birth families, (2) provide peer support for birth families, and (3) decrease the stigma, blame, and shame that birth families may experience.

The group meets four times a year—three times by teleconference and once at an all-day meeting held in conjunction with the Center's annual Building FASD State Systems conference. At each BMN teleconference or conference members discuss issues or concerns related to outreach, provide updates on activities in their States, and provide follow up on action items from the previous meeting. Click here for data related to BMN membership and activities from August 2011 through June 2012.

Kathleen T. Mitchell is the NOFAS Liaison, a BMN Regional Coordinator, and Project Director for the BMN. She has served in these roles since the inception of the group. She may be contacted for additional information about the BMN. Click here for Ms. Mitchell's contact information.

In support of the BMN's efforts, NOFAS sponsors The Circle of Hope (COH) Exit Disclaimer Graphic  Web page (off of their Web site) for women in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction who have a child/children with an FASD. They refer to these women as "Warrior Moms." The link includes a calendar of events, personal stories from Warrior Moms, essays, newsletters, and information on how birth mothers can find mentors.

To enhance outreach activities, the BMN has designated regional coordinators to take responsibility for a specific State or group of States. Click here for information on the regional coordinators' responsibilities.


Recent BMN Activities

A recent focus of the BMN has been to maintain and strengthen the BMN Speakers Bureau. This year there were 17 conferences and/or workshops that stemmed from the Speakers Bureau and featured the story of a birth mom. Speakers Bureau members have presented to legislators, men and women in treatment centers, medical school students, high school students, and at-risk teens. The members of the BMN Speakers Bureau continue to plan future speaking engagements. A third peer training was held to train additional BMN members interested in and qualified for speaking on behalf of the group. To date, 23 BMN members have been trained as speakers. Click here for additional information on this peer training.

BMN members who attended one of the peer trainings were also invited to attend a Center-sponsored Field Trainers Update. This 2-day update brought together people working in the field of FASD to receive up-to-date information on advances in treatment and prevention and new directions in science and research.

The BMN members also convened their annual Business Meeting on April 30, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia. Twenty-six members attended. The agenda included updates from SAMHSA, NOFAS, and BMN State Coordinators. Kathleen T. Mitchell also discussed member mentoring, support niches, and ideas for promoting the goals of the group. Presenters also provided the group with information on sustainability and advocating for accommodations for children with special needs within the school system.

Another focus of the BMN has been to form collaborations with organizations that serve birth mothers and with existing FASD Task Forces and FASD State representatives to strengthen and support the BMN. There are a total of 19 BMN Regional Coordinators who meet with FASD State Coordinators and FASD Task Forces (where available) to establish themselves as the birth mother mentor or "go to" person in the region. In addition, the BMN has worked to establish and maintain partnerships with community outreach programs and organizations working with birth mothers, such as the Parent-Child Assistance Program (P-CAP). The BMN has continued to identify new and innovative strategies for expanding their membership.

Additional Resources Regarding the BMN:


Data Related to BMN Membership and Recent Activities

Below is a summary of the BMN membership, outreach, and other activities in the last contract year (i.e., August 2011 through June 2012):

  • Quantifiable Activity Number
    Number of active* BMN members 33
    Number of birth mothers in the database 136
    Number of birth mothers trained for the Speakers Bureau 27
    Number of meetings/conferences at which BMN information was displayed 17

* This number represents those that participate actively with the conference calls, have participated in meetings or peer training, have responded to mentor requests, and/or have supported their Regional Coordinator.


Contact Information for Kathleen T. Mitchell

Kathleen T. Mitchell, M.H.S., LCADC
Vice President/Spokesperson
BMN-COH Project Director
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
1200 Eton Court, NW
3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 240-793-4342
Fax: 202-466-6456 Fax
E-mail: mitchell@nofas.org


Information on the BMN Regional Coordinators’ Responsibilities

Members who serve as BMN Regional Coordinators are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Meeting with FASD State Coordinator(s) (if applicable).
  • Discussing the BMN with their State FASD Task Force or FASD Working Group (if applicable).
  • Establishing themselves as the birth mother mentor or "go to" person in the region.


Additional Information About the BMN Peer Training

The BMN convened their third peer training March 8-9, 2012, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The training furthered the development of the BMN Speakers Bureau to continue to support the goals of the BMN. To formalize and increase participation in the Speakers Bureau, core group members of the BMN with speaking and presentation development experience provided training to interested and qualified members of the BMN. The training covered important basics about FASD and discussion of available resources, FASD systems of care, person-first language, and public speaking. Presentation techniques and individual learning styles were also covered. Sixteen BMN members received the training.