It takes a special person to become a foster parent, and many agencies across the Bay Area are asking for volunteers to help with the influx of children being removed from homes because of heroin.
Some children are removed because their parents are heroin addicts, or have died from overdoses. Other children are removed for the same reason but need extra care because they are also addicts, born that way after spending nine months in a womb inundated with drugs.
We met a foster mom we will call “Mary” who is taking care of an 11 week old. The baby was born an addict.
“He went through withdrawal, for 11 days he was on methadone,” Mary said. “He wouldn't let me let him down. For the first month it was sleepless nights.”
Mary is on the front lines of a battle to protect children from the horror of drug abuse. For her foster baby the life he will be able to lead after being exposed to so many drugs is unknown.
“He is having some serious internal problems,” Mary said.
The infant needs 24 hour care and one on one attention if he is going to survive. With a system overwhelmed with cases there are some infants who aren’t lucky enough to have a dedicated care giver giving them their undivided attention.
ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska asked Mary if becoming a foster parent was worth everything she has to go through.
“Every bit of it, it’s all worth it. The kid part is amazing at the end the system is lacking for sure. I know some of them right now because our system is so bad have six kids under the age of four getting wavers just to be able to handle these children just because they don't have enough placements.”
Mary worries that the state is so overwhelmed with children they won’t have the resources to protect all of the kids they place.
“Because the state is so heavily induced with so many children they don't have the means to really really protect these kids, like they should,” Mary said. “There are so many loopholes right now, I feel, in our system and a lot of these kids are repeat offenders. Meaning they get taken back to their families or go to a relative and something happens and they are bouncing right back into the system within six months to a year.”
According to statistics provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families Manatee County’s removal rate for kids is more than double the state average. Law enforcement said a majority of the removals are because of heroin.
Over the past two years the heroin crisis has exploded in Manatee County. Statistics show that children in Manatee County were removed from homes last December at a rate of nearly three times the state average.
Our foster mom said becoming a foster parent has been one of the most fulfilling things she’s been able to do to help children in need. For more information on how you can help click here.