It took three months for a newborn girl named Dylan to be weaned off opiate drugs in one Texas town. Like other babies born addicted to opiates, Dylan struggled with intensive withdrawal symptoms during that time, including tremors and pain that caused her to continually scream a high-pitched wail. To assist her in the detox process, she was put on morphine and slowly weaned off the drug over a 90-day period, until she was finally ready to go home to her foster family.
With time, persistence, and patience, her foster parents have been able to help Dylan stabilize emotionally. She has struggled with developmental and/or cognitive delays, likely as a result of her exposure to addictive drugs in the womb, and it is likely that those issues will persist throughout her childhood. Her foster parents, however, were undeterred, and decided to make the situation permanent, including Dylan in their family with their two young biological children.
Said her new foster mom: “It was love at first sight. I felt love for her like the same love that I had when I just laid eyes on my two biological children. Just a mother’s instinct. I just wanted to protect her, love her and take care of her.”
Dylan’s foster family found out that they would be able to adopt her just in time for the holidays. There are thousands of babies just like her in the foster system in Texas, all of whom need the support of a foster family and potentially a forever home to call their own.
The epidemic of opioid addiction has had the consequence of overwhelming an already heavily taxed foster care system, and the children born into addiction suffer as a result. In addition to losing their parents to active addiction, they must also face the health and developmental problems associated with drug exposure in the womb. It can be a long and difficult road, but the support of a loving foster family can make the process much easier.
Giving Back, Moving Ahead
If you are in recovery, you may not be in a position to foster children who are struggling with developmental and behavioral difficulties, but there are a number of ways you can help. There are fundraisers and charities dedicated to supporting foster kids, including pajama and clothes drives, and others that offer respite services to foster families. You may find there is a nonprofit near you that provides support to foster kids or foster families or advocates for them in some way. There are a number of ways you can help out, even if you are not comfortable with fostering a child.
If you are a parent who is not currently with your child due to drug addiction and treatment, it may be part of your process to rebuild your life so you can make positive choices for their wellbeing. This may entail following court orders to take drug tests, find a safe home, and prove that you can offer stability to them after you create a foundation for yourself in recovery. It may mean determining that the best place for your child is with a family that has the ability to provide them with long-term support, especially if you are struggling with staying sober and need more time in treatment and/or sober living.
Every situation is different, and what you have to offer will depend on the resources you have at your disposal and what you can provide without putting your recovery at risk.
When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant will deliver a speech about how to use the oxygen masks, should the pressure in the cabin drop suddenly. They will always direct you to put the mask on yourself first before you attempt to help anyone else – good advice at all times for people in recovery. That is, it is essential that you take care of yourself in recovery and make sure you have what you need to survive before trying to take care of others. Though giving back is an essential part of recovery, it is important to make sure that you are not giving away so much – emotionally or physically – that you are unable to take care of yourself and stay sober.
How are you taking care of yourself in recovery so you are more capable of taking care of the people around you?