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I’m Foster Parenting Her Kids

Time release Night Sky

MommaB3 has been foster parenting her Loved One’s children after she and her partner were sectioned last fall. Meanwhile, they are finally in an outpatient program and receiving methadone… but drug testing has revealed they both may be using again.

I'm not exactly sure what to post here or what I am looking to get out of it but I figured if I don't start somewhere I'll never get the answers I might be looking for. My Loved One is my sister-in-law. My husband and his family decided to section her right after Thanksgiving last year after her and her boyfriend scrapped their working car for $175. They have two children (10mo and 3yo when they were taken by DCF) who have been placed with us through a kinship fostering situation since then. Their drugs of choice are heroin and fentanyl. They have their court ordered weekly visits with both kids. We found out at the most recent foster care review that they are finally in an outpatient program where they are receiving methadone as well as attending groups. They are both being drug tested regularly. Mom passed the first drug test but Dad failed for fentanyl. The most recent one they both failed for fentanyl. They both cry and express how badly they want their kids back but then they fail the test and I don't know what to think. I am angry at her for not choosing her kids over her high. I have never liked her bf and would love him out of the picture but know that it's not up to me to decide. I'm angry because I'm raising her children and she's out using a drug that could kill her. I don't know what to do. We have no contact with them at all except at the reviews. I hate that they can test positive for such a dangerous drug and still get to have a visit with their children. I have never used a drug in my life nor have I ever known anyone close to me who has experienced addiction quite like this. I don't know anything about heroin or fentanyl but I don't understand how their perfect little faces aren't enough to motivate them to stay clean. I know I can't be alone in this but it feels like it.

The children's perfect little faces aren’t enough to stop using drugs. How incomprehensible this can be to someone not familiar with addiction. This is how Laurie MacDougall recently put it at a training she and I were holding…

“Asking a loved one to find his/her sobriety is like asking them to climb a mountain … without a backpack, without water, without a sherpa or oxygen tank. And if that’s not enough, we’re also saying to them ‘You go ahead and do that. I’ll sometimes cheer you on. I’ll most often tell you what you’re doing wrong. And, by the way, I’m not doing any climbing myself.’

Was there really something that could have kept me from perseverating every night when my son was on the streets? Were there things I could have said that might have helped him find his sobriety instead of just constantly begging him to stop? Was there a way to handle my stress so that it didn’t spill out to the rest of my family?”

Welcome to this site. Your sister-in-law and boyfriend have lost their children to foster care, and, luckily for everyone, they have been placed with you. So many families are going through this. The numbers in Massachusetts alone of grandparents and others raising the children of those struggling with addiction has skyrocketed with the opioid epidemic.

I hope you can find the time to look at the Learning Modules. The modules explain what you are seeing in your sister-in-law and begin to light the way for you going forward.

Your situation sounds hopeful. Your sister-in-law and her boyfriend are now in treatment, attending groups and taking methadone. It takes a while for the methadone to start working. The methadone clinic almost expects to see illicit drugs in the urine of those just starting out. This is true with methadone or any medication assisted treatment for that matter. It takes a little time to get the dosage right so that the cravings are dampened and the withdrawal symptoms stop.

You see your sister-in-law weekly when she and her boyfriend visit their children. They love their children and they are trying to address their addiction.

That both of them are taking fentanyl does tell us how deep they are in their addiction to opioids. It is analogous to being enchained, fentanyl being the strongest drug we have ever seen in this class of drugs. Without the fentanyl in their system, neither of them could do anything at all. They would feel so incredibly sick, it is hard to imagine the agony. And, yes, this includes being able to care for their children. So they take fentanyl everyday, not because they want to, but because they need to.

No one sets out to be addicted to fentanyl. No one is proud of this reality. The best way out is what your sister-in-law and boyfriend are doing. They love their children and they are trying. This is a start.

Let the methadone do its work. When they come to see their children, give them a hug, tell them you are proud of their efforts, and that you care deeply about your family.

Yes, addiction can make you choose the drug over your own children; it makes you choose the risk of death each time you shoot the drug into your veins. It ruins absolutely everything: relationships, homes, careers. It is a tempest.

Thank goodness for the grandparents and other relatives taking care of the children in this epidemic. You deserve to be honored, applauded, recognized, and thanked.

Now that you are on this site, we can teach you to understand what is going on and how to respond accordingly. We can provide you with realistic hope that your family will overcome what addiction has done. Your family can overcome addiction and heal from it.

We feel for you and everyone caught up in this storm. Those who come to this site know how all the ups and downs of addiction wear on the family – on so many levels. The resources here provide a framework that can guide family members in substantial ways. They are here to help you become grounded in what you can do, so that you can refocus your energies towards the positive. It takes practice. We all need appreciation, and encouragement. You are not alone. We are all here for each other.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Thank you so much! I am looking forward to going through the modules and learning everything I can from this site. I want to feel something positive and I feel like maybe I will find that here. I’m interested to see what else there is to learn on this site and I am truly thankful to have a place to turn when I feel like no one else understands!

    1. Dear MommaB3,

      I’ve just read your comment, and Dominique’s response. I hear and understand the outrage and incomprehension. The WHY!? The HOW!? It is so so hard for those of us lucky enough to never have fallen prey to a dangerous addiction, to truly comprehend what’s behind it all. And how two young parents could choose heroin or fentanyl over their young children’s angelic faces.

      And yet, in our society today and in our neighborhoods, millions have fallen into the trap, and so many keep falling. They are suffering (as Dominique says, not one of them made a conscious choice to become addicted) and they are unintentionally creating suffering all around them.

      I so appreciated reading Dominique’s post in response to you. She has been on both sides of addiction, and this post demonstrates the deep empathy she feels and encourages us to cultivate, for all parties involved in addiction. I am also so moved by the hope that Dominique expresses about your sister-in-law’s progress, and about our capacity as humans to climb out of the absolute darkest places.

      I thank you both for sharing what you have. I thank you and commend you for being on this site and laying it all down for us, with all your emotions and confusion and wondering. Thank you for doing what you’re doing for those children, and for their parents, and thank you for looking for ways to keep helping and improve things even further. We hope you will find a boost of strength and hope here on Allies in Recovery. Keep us in the loop.