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Parenting : The Ones that Raise Another's child

Updated on June 26, 2014

Get the facts

The fact of the matter is that, this is more common than one might imagine. Currently in the State of Tennessee there are over 8000 children in custody. Did you know that every hour at least one baby is being born addicted? Well the fact of the matter is that approximately 20 babies a week are born addicted to opiates. This is known as Neo-Natal Abstinence Syndrome. Neo-Natal abstinence syndrome occurs because pregnant women take illicit or prescription drugs. Some of the symptoms include blotchy skin coloring, diarrhea, excessive crying and sucking, fever, hyperactive reflexes, increased muscle tone, irritability, poor feeding, rapid breathing, seizures, sleep problems, slow weight gain, stuffy nose/ sneezing, sweating, tremors, and vomiting. It is obvious that these little humans have a rough start right from the day they are born. Complications of drug use, by a pregnant women, are on the rise and are linked to birth defects, low birth weight, premature birth, small head circumference, and also an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, often known as S.I.D.S. Babies that are born addicted often times end up in N.I.C.U . These poor little ones suffer for the first months of their lives. especially the first one. Did you know that around 17,000 people died each year from being addicted to prescription pain killers and opiates. It is a sad day when someone would put their new born baby through the horrendous conditions that a addicted baby goes through. It is proven that these little ones often are not released to there biological mothers, as their addiction would inhibit the care of the child. The lucky ones have an extended family network that is there and willing to raise the little ones as there own. Those that do not have the extended family, often end up as a ward of the state, bouncing around foster homes and eventually getting adopted or released at, what is considered an adult, age of 18. What happens after they are released? They are usually alone and have no family so they resort to the streets. Gangs and such to fill the hole that is left in their heart and then a lot of cases results in a revolving door. Not all cases are as such, there are some that come out great and they grow into a successful adults. The secret is that they always have someone who cares and deeply loves them .

The struggles

Raising someone's addicted baby sometimes, is the one and only option for the child. The family that takes on the responsibility, more times than not, do not realize the struggles that lie ahead. In raising someone's child, you are often at a loss. Especially when the baby is born addicted to drugs and there are several nights when all the baby will do is cry. Not only from the addiction, but also in pain. There are only so many things one can do to help the struggling infant. This can carry on into 6 months of life. The doctors will tell you that it will take 6 weeks. Well in my experience, I have found that this is not the case. The baby will have irritabilities well into 1 year of age. As I have experienced, in my case, the 6 month mark offered some relief. We could actually get through the day with only 4 hours of continuous crying. By the age of 9 month they usually sleep through the night.

This is a daily struggle, First off , you have the continuous reminder that this isn't your child. Then usually the parents have visitation and at times you would love to strangle them and call it a day. The parents have continued rights. They are allowed to enjoy their drugs and see their babies. But however, not manage to stay clean long enough to get their baby back. This is very frustrating. Your life has been flipped upside down and they do not even show any appreciation. Instead, you are the one that they blame.

When you are inquisitive about their progress, you often get a batch of excuses, as to why they can't manage to meet the requirements of the permacy plan that is installed and agreed by all parties. My case just so happens to be a relative placement. There are times when the biological parents can not come around, these include: A failed drug screen, an active warrant, or that they are to busy to come. That one gets me every time. How is it that I am raising your child and you can't come once a week ? This is very frustrating. You have had to quit your job because this baby has numerous medical problems and daycare was keeping her sick. How is it that they have the nerve to tell us, they are busy working. Then this creates some bad feelings mostly anger on your part but you try and forgive, be rational and say it is ok. Then some how weekly visits manage to become monthly visits . Then there are the court dates and meetings. Oh , got to love them, as they try and give the parents more credit than they deserve and you are trying to keep it calm so you don't report that the weekly visits have turned into monthly visits and the measly $10 a week child support isn't getting paid either. This creates tension and with your own child.

Family get togethers

Well now you are not only having problems with your child, the family now has banned, your child. Their nephew, grandson and brother. So how is it that you are supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving, without your child present? Well you pretty much learn that you are hosting all the celebrations from your home, those that doesn't want to come fine, but those that do are welcome. Now not only, are you raising another child, on top of your, 4 still at home. You are also now hosting dinners and get togethers for all that will show. Your son doesn't realize that his actions, have reflected into a partial family uproar, so you just try and tell him you have decided to be the host for these things. Trying to somehow protect his feelings, when all he can do is trample on yours repeatedly. So now you are forced in the middle, yes you understand that what your child has done is inexcusable. Now you are struggling to convince the family, he is trying, it is hard when you don't much believe it yourself. Your life gets shattered and you are reminded of it daily. You now have this additional child to raise, although, hope still lingers in the back of your mind, that one day he will become the man you raised him to be. You just hope that it is not to late to save his child. From the thought, that their parents didn't love them enough to give up drugs.

Then he comes to the house intoxicated and you have to swiftly escort him out as his daughter reaches for a leaving daddy. You hang your head, because once again you are the " bad guy". Now he is telling everyone that you will not allow him to see his child. At that point you just loose it in the arms of your spouse. You feel like the weight of the world is all on you. There are nights you fall asleep in a tear dampened pillow from the emotions that just escaped out your eyes. Some how you manage to hold it all together. The next morning you are awakened by the sound of a crying baby. At no point in your life did you want to have to raise another child, however, this is the only remedy now as you would never release her to the state. You have moments when you are ok and then those that are not so ok. Raising your child's child is not what grandparents are supposed to be about. You long for the days when your life can get back to normal. After all, with therapy, case workers, and detectives in and out of your home on a regular basis, one would start to wonder how long this will last. Will the parents ever stay clean and be the loving parents they so have the potential for? Or will they continue to disrupt their lives and the lives of their children?

The Child

The child brings so much joy and laughter. Child rearing is more than joy and laughter. The child needs stability, love and laughter, play and structure. To try and raise someone else's child is to constantly ask yourself, am I doing the best I can? If you can say that you are, then you are doing all it takes . For the babies and young children it is Important that you include them in activities with your children, that are still at home. Try to balance out the pictures to include all children equally. Small children may be "clingy" this is out of insecurities that may reside inside the child, from their experiences with the biological parents. They may have more of a issue with separation anxiety. This can be addressed by enrolling the child in a pre-school or daycare. Start off slow at first, once or twice a week and work it up to a full week. This assures the child that you are always going to come get them and also it allows them time to develop friends and play dates. It is also important to spend quality time, individually, with all children. They need that time with their parents it develops more of a bond and memories of good times alone with you and your spouse. , Keep in mind to never discuss negatively, the parents in the presence of the child, for the child is part of their parents and do not need to hear negative discussions or comments. Though you will raise the child it is very important that you understand, they will always have the longing for their parents. Though we may wonder why, after everything the parent has done and also not done for the child. That child will always have the bond and longing for the biological parents. It is important that we allow that, within reason. Some children will misbehave out of the resentment for the parent. This should be handled appropriately. The times when children " lash out" are the times when they need to know the love you have for them the most. Counseling is a good resource for the older child. Though the older child may not want to participate at first, chances are they will come to appreciate the help you are seeking for them. There are also support groups for these children, check your local directory or get a resource list from the case worker. Often times these services are offered free of charge. It is also important that you do not let the biological parents be a negative influence on the child and see that they are not allowing illegal drug use around the child or with the child. Though this may seem unreal it happens more times than one would want to admit. This is why the parent lost the child in the first place.

When they are grown

When a child that is placed in your custody becomes an adult. It is very important that you continue to include them in all family activities. If the child, as and adult, decides to make their biological parents an active part of their lives, the only thing you need to do is to warn the, now adult, of the events to not participate in. You have to trust that you have instilled good moral behavior and trust that they will make the proper decisions for their life. Remind them that they have goals they wish to obtain and that drug use, legal charges and lifestyles are what will lead or detour them from the goals that have been set forth. It is good to think of them as the family they are and not the foster or placement child they once were. The adult child should be able to rely on you for advice and phone calls just to say hi or to discuss problems they may be facing. Leave the door opened for them to reach out to you for help, in the adult life and support for the good choices they have made and direction in the not so good choices they have made, Trust that they will always know the sacrifices you have made for them. Though you may not get the appreciation that you deserve know it is to come as they mature and become responsible adults. You have saved this child from a revolving door. They are going to make mistakes it is important to forgive them and not label them as "just like their parents". Love is something that last forever and that you have been the source of many blessings.


If you are faced with raising a child , you did not deliver, it is important to remember that they completely rely on you. You are more than likely the last resort for that child . Do not hold resentment to the child for the parents mistakes. The child did not ask to have unfit parents. The great thing you are doing is full of rewards. Big and small alike you are the one that has to make a positive future for the child in your care. You will find that it will come easier than one may think, the child, very quickly, becomes your child. The first steps and words to the first day of school. All of the little events add up to one big pot of love that no one can change. Blood is only blood, love is what makes our children ours. I hope that if you are faced with this situation that you will seek out the support offered, in all areas. You will do fine, there is a reason you have been entrusted to raise this child. Though hard at first, each day gets a little easier until you couldn't imagine your life without the presence of the child. They become yours in always but blood. It may put some stress on the marriage, but the two of you can work it out day by day. Be sure to remember that the child did not do this to him or her self. This is as much of a change for them, as it is for you. The child just needs to be loved and cared for and soon enough they will fit right into your life.


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