Families affected by alcohol-related birth defects can get information and support from these organizations:
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), (800) 66-NOFAS.
Family Empowerment Network: Support for Families Affected by FAS/FAE. (800) 462-5254.
The Arc, (800) 252-9054.
A ticking-bomb baby
John Patrick Eastlack is returned to Tucson after his 1989 arrest in El Paso.
He was their dream baby, the child they chose to make their own.
The young couple first saw him at an adoption agency as a Minnesota snowstorm raged.
"He was a little blue bundle, wearing a blue snowsuit and white snow boots," said the woman who would later adopt him. "Perry was his name. We held him and played with him. And then the social worker took him away and said, 'Now you have to decide if you want the child.' We desperately wanted to have more children, but we could not. Of course we wanted him."
And so Perry, after bouncing around the foster care system for 16 months, became John Patrick Eastlack. He was taken home by his parents and sister. They were eager to share their love with this beaming 16-month-old boy.
But all the love in the world couldn't fix the brain damage his family was unaware of. They didn't know mental illness had plagued his birth family for generations. They didn't know his mother had gotten so drunk during her pregnancy that she had to be rushed to a hospital after passing out.
It would be nearly 30 years before they finally had a name for what caused the child's erratic and criminal behavior - fetal alcohol syndrome.
And before they could diagnose the disorder, Eastlack would become a killer.
In what appears to be the first ruling of its kind in the nation, a Pima County judge decided last April that because of Eastlack's FAS, his death sentence for the brutal 1989 murders of Tucsonans Kathryn and Leicester Sherrill should be reduced to life in prison.
Judge Pro Tempore John Lindberg ruled that because of Eastlack's FAS and genetic history, he has a "limited ability to comprehend cause and effect."
Because of the ruling, Eastlack's adoptive mother, Katherine Norgard, knows that although her 30-year-old son will spend the rest of his life behind bars, he will not be executed.
A diagnosis of FAS does not change the facts.
"Because John has FAS doesn't make it any easier," Norgard said. "It's still horrible. It's horrible what happened to the Sherrills and their family, and it's horrible what happened to John's life and our life."
But the FAS diagnosis helps her to understand her son's frustrating behavior.
Early on, John was a stress on the family. Looking back, the grin he always wore on his face was more eerie than charming. The smile came at inappropriate times - often when he knew he was in trouble.
The grin has followed him through life. At his trial, he was nicknamed "Smiling John" for his bizarre behavior in the courtroom.
In an almost boastful manner, Eastlack shared with anyone who would listen the gruesome details of the day he murdered the Sherrills.