Tag Archives: drugs

Saving the little baby’s life

A Florida adoptive mother came to one of our staff members to express her concerns about a baby her adopted children’s biological mother just gave birth to. The staff member stepped in to inquire about the baby’s status and discovered that the baby was kept in the hospital with withdrawal symptoms, although both parents tested negative for drugs.The adoptive mother who had approached the staff member adopted five of the infant’s siblings after drug use and physical abuse led to parental terminations. 

After looking into the couple’s court history, the staff member discovered that both parents had been given only a single-panel drug screen for cocaine but had not been tested for other substances.

The staff member contacted LifeStream Behavioral Health Center to learn more about drug testing and learned that drug use could be hidden by taking a certain substance. As a result of the staff member’s inquiries, both parents were ordered to take a 12-panel drug screen – during a hearing to shelter the baby – and the test results led the judge to order the baby be placed with the adoptive parent of her siblings.

The staff member met repeatedly with the child protective investigator, Children’s Legal Services and the Program Administrator to monitor the infant’s status and safety, and ultimately her decisive action saved the child’s life.

This is one of many inspiring stories – we’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks and months!

Learning what true love is

Guest post by Merrilu Bennett, Communications and Media Coordinator at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in Central Florida, one of DCF’s community-based care organizations. The Children’s Home has been in existence for more than 100 years and provides residential, therapeutic, emergency shelter and foster care to hundreds of abused, neglected and troubled children from across the state each and every year.

Allen’s mother was a drug addict who had abandoned him numerous times during his young life. She would leave him with friends or relatives for months at a time. The last time she left him, she didn’t return.

When she was finally tracked down and contacted by authorities, she said she didn’t want him back and then she disappeared.  Authorities could find no friends or family members willing to take care of him. His father, who Allen has never met, was in prison.

Florida United Methodist Children’s Home

Florida United Methodist Children’s Home

So at the age of 7, Allen was placed at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in our residential care program in the hopes it would provide him with much-needed structure and stability. “Stable” and “structured,” however, are the last two words that could be used to describe Allen’s initial behavior. During fits of anger he would shove rocking chairs, benches and even a bicycle off the front porch of his cottage.

One morning, one of our staff members sat with Allen when he refused to attend school.  She explained to him that she wanted him to go to school because she cared about him and his future.  Between sobs, he exclaimed, “My momma cared about me, and she never made me go to school!”

Living with a drug-addicted mother who didn’t care if he went to school was all this fragile little boy had known as love. And he also knew that “love” had been taken away from him.  He didn’t know his mother’s behavior and his childhood weren’t normal.  It was all he had ever known. Our job here at the Children’s Home was to teach Allen what “normal” really was.

The transformation did not take place overnight, but over weeks and months noticeable differences in his attitude began to take shape.  He began to attend school without argument and also began to participate in on-campus activities like sports.

Today, two years later, Allen plays football with a league in the community.  He not only enjoys school, but also helps other young residents understand the material.  In January he was recognized as our “Resident of the Week” because of how helpful he is.

Allen is just one of the hundreds of children we serve who just need to know they are loved. It takes time and it takes patience.  It also takes an unwavering belief that we can make a difference. But seeing the children grow emotionally – and learn what true love is – is more powerful than any bumps in the road along the way.

If you are interested in mentoring a child, donating time or items, or becoming a foster parent, please contact me at Merrilu.Bennett@fumch.org. It is an honor and privilege to work with these children and to share their stories. We welcome all volunteers who want to make a difference in their young lives.

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in mentoring or fostering in other areas of Florida, please visit www.fosteringflorida.com to find a local fostering agency. 

Giving and receiving

Guest post by Franklin Monjarrez, Executive Director of Neat Stuff Inc. This past year, more than 5,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children in Miami-Dade County visited Neat Stuff and received more than $1.3 million dollars worth of clothes and uniforms.

Early one afternoon a young boy, about 4 years old, came into our store for free clothes. He was in his PJs, his only possession. As I got closer to him I saw about 15 burns all over his small face. When he saw me he extended his arms for me to hold him.

The lady with him, his aunt who had just received temporary custody of the boy, told me I looked like his dad. The one who had caused those horrible burns on his face. The father was a crack addict and had burned the boy with a lighter.

Despite all the pain he had just gone through, this boy was just looking to give and receive love. I picked him up and played with him awhile. We gave him all the clothes and supplies he needed.

Stories like this happen all the time – the aunt bravely stepping forth to care for nephews and nieces. The grandma raising grandkids. The caring couple who takes in abused children and tenderly helps them heal. The holidays can be a hard time for these families, so we decided to make it just a little easier by organizing a turkey giveaway.

Turkeys ready for delivery to families

This past Saturday, Neat Stuff had the pleasure of sharing the joy of Thanksgiving with 111 foster care advocates and adopted families. Each family received a turkey and a grocery bag loaded with cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes, gravy, marshmallows and stuffing!

Our annual turkey giveway brings together the best and brightest of our Miami community.  The turkey and trimmings distribution effort was made possible by generous donations from Publix Super Market Charities, Sam’s Club and Neat Stuff’s Board of Directors.

At the store where at-risk kids can get free clothes (Franklin is in the blue Neat Stuff shirt)

Grandma Mary said it best, “For the past three years I have been coming to Neat Stuff to receive free clothes and uniforms for my grandkids. I’m so happy I was able to receive a turkey this year. This agency feels like a second home to us.”

We are so thankful for all the community partners who help us help families every day. We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Delivering a turkey

Stuffing bags of food for families.

Neat Stuff volunteers (Franklin is in the blue Neat Stuff shirt, third from left)

We must protect Florida’s newborn babies from drug addiction

Guest post by William Liu, M.D., corporate medical director of Pediatrix Medical Group of Florida, Inc. and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit medical director of The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

From 2005 to 2010, Lee County hospitals have seen a 700 percent increase in the number of babies born with a drug addiction.  Statewide, based upon data from the Agency for Health Care Administration, this problem has increased by about 430 percent in the same time period.

When a baby is born addicted to drugs, the child goes through withdrawal similar to how an adult going through rehabilitation would. Withdrawal in babies can include uncontrollable crying, inability to sleep or eat normally, throwing up, diarrhea, sweating, breathing problems, and in severe cases, seizures. This should not be the way for a human being to enter the world. Watching a newborn go through withdrawal is absolutely heartbreaking.

However, once a woman who is dependent on narcotics becomes pregnant they should not try to stop taking the medication, whether prescribed legally or taken illegally. If the mother tries to go through withdrawal while pregnant, the baby in the womb is at risk for active withdrawal, leading to poor development, early delivery or even death.  Instead, a controlled treatment program is suggested, with methadone presently considered the most effective drug for pregnant mothers who are addicted to pain killers.  To avoid this complication, it is extremely important that women are drug-free or have a pregnancy plan BEFORE they get pregnant.

Prescription drugs are a growing concern and it appears that the increase in babies born addicted to drugs is directly related to an increase in prescription drug abuse.

Today, unlike the cocaine epidemic of the 1970s and 80s, pain killers are legal and legitimately prescribed for pain relief.  While there are mothers with a history of addiction and doctor shopping, there are also mothers who claim surprise, shock and dismay, unaware and uninformed of the potential consequences of their treatments, having acquired their prescriptions legally and under the trusting care of a doctor.

The great majority of physicians are dedicated to the betterment of their patients, doing their best to balance many factors to achieve the best possible outcomes.  However, the art of medicine utilizes a complex decision tree, weighing risk and benefit on many levels.

State and national awareness is indeed increasing, but the problem still exists – and is growing. I urge women of child-bearing age who are currently on prescription pain medication, illegally or legally, to talk to their doctor about a pregnancy plan, just in case. No baby should have to experience the pain of drug addiction or withdrawal, especially during their first days of life. 

Note:

For information about substance abuse and mental health facilities in your area, visit our online searchable directory.