I’ve grown a bit tired of poor and harmful lifestyle decisions being labled a disease.  Give me a friggin break!  You eat too much.  It’s not your fault, it’s a disease.  You drink too much.  It’s not your fault, it’s a diesase.  You do drugs.  It’s not your fault, it’s a disease.

Well (personally) I come from a long line of alchoholics.  I remember watching my grandfather hide his bottle so my grandmother couldn’t find it.  I remember, all to vividly, watching my father…  Then there were my poor choices.  Eventually I ended up going through a drug and alcohol (in patient) treatment facility in the mid 1980s.  I never did like that “One Day at a Time” bull.  I knew what I was doing but I didn’t care.  I wanted to enjoy myself.  But the day came that I realized that I had to make better decisions for myself and my family.  So I did.  Period.

Now here is what I am struggling with at this time.  If you’ve read this Blog then you know what is going on so please forgive the quick review.

On the 29th of this month we are to sign the adoption for our “new kids”.  We have had them since May of 2006.  In February our little girl turned seven years old and this month our little boy turned five years old.

We intiially got involved with this family when our little girl was four months old.  We were asked to help a single dad with a four month old baby during the summer while my wife was out of school.  We would go and pick the baby up around 6:20 am and bring her back in the evening about the same time.  At times we would keep her overnight and/or weekends just to give the bio-dad a break.  Plus we had grown to love the baby.

Over time we found out that the reason the bio-dad had the baby on his own was that the bio-mom (while pregnant) got intoxicated and ran over a pedesterian and killed him.  She was subsequently convicted of vehicular homicide and had the baby while in prison.

So bio-mom gets out of prison when the baby is about a year old.  The bio-mom/dad get back together, she gets pregnant and has the little boy.  He’s born addicted to drugs!  The mom admits to the Social Workers that she had been smoking pot, drinking alcohol and smoking all throughout the pregnancy.  When the little boy was born the doctors noticed that he had breathing difficulties.  Tests were run and he tested positive for “canabinoid” (pot).

The bio-mom was still on probabition from the previous conviction of vehicular homicide when the baby boy was born.

The hospital ran the tests.  Don’t they have an obligation to report that to the authorities?

The Social Services worker was aware of the test results.  Isn’t Social Services obligated to report drug abuse/child endangerment to the proper authorities?

I read our little boys medical record where it documents that he had difficulty breathing.  That he tested positive for drugs.   That he was rooting around in his crib flailing his extremities.

First the bio-mom failed to protect the baby.

Next the hospital failed to protect the baby.

Then the Social Services worker failed to report and protect the baby.

Now am I supposed to just ignore these facts?  Or am I supposed to take more aggressive action?  What if this woman becomes impregnated again and is still living the lifestyle of a drug abuser?  Will that baby’s addiction be partly my fault for failing to report the bio mom?

The easy thing would be to just ignore it.  I never have been one for taking the easy way out.



  1. Jim Phillips says:

    Bringing any of this up at this point would probably expose the kids to an inqusition they don’t need. May not. I think the info is too far back to process or prosecute. Still a bad deal for the druggie parents but, in time the kids may have to be especially gurded, taught, warned….about the dangers of drug abuse so as to not trigger something deep down.

  2. Joy says:

    Well, I know you and you know what I’m going to say I think. I don’t think you’re going to take the easy way out. Even though I only know you “online,” I think/know you’re going to do the right thing and report it all.

    But I do have a question. What do you mean by “taking aggressive action?” What does that mean exactly? What can you do? Isn’t this bio mom still in jail? Would you speak at some kind of parole hearing? Even though I know the story, I’m a little lost. Everyone knows these things don’t they?

  3. lawyerchik1 says:

    I totally agree with most of your assessment of the “addiction is a disease” rhetoric. I say “most” because there is some truth to the genetic predisposition argument – there are some people who, genetically/biologically, cannot tolerate even one drink. Those people should not go anywhere near alcohol.

    And, there are people who, because of their family situations (dysfunction, etc.) are more likely to become addicted or to abuse substances – the thing is, the addictive personality traits will find something to abuse, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, work, sex, TV, exercise, or something else.

    That said, none of that relieves individuals of personal responsibility for their actions – such individuals might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy to help them change habits and break the addictive behavior cycle (i.e., learning to recognize when a habit has become an addiction, learning other more effective ways of handling stuff in their lives, etc.), but they have to do it themselves. I don’t think that a great deal is accomplished by blaming, but I know for darned certain that nothing is accomplished by excusing.

    As far as the other aspect of your question, I might be a bit of a coward on this, but if it were me, I would keep my mouth shut until after the adoption had been finalized such that there was no way anyone could take those children away from you. Once you are the kids’ legal parents and have the legal right to waive any confidentiality or privilege as to their medical records, then you could rat out the mom.

    Whether there is a statute of limitations on child endangerment charges is something you would want to discuss with your local county prosecutor or city attorney. I also don’t know what the criminal penalties are for that type of case in your jurisdiction. I also don’t know what the elements of that type of crime are – again, your best bet is to make an appointment with the city attorney or county prosecutor to ask those kinds of questions.

    However, the next question is, to what effect? What relief are you looking for from doing so? Even if the mom is a known drug addict, the state has no legal authority to sterilize her – and even the prison system can’t keep her from having sex.

    You and your family are doing everything you possibly can do by giving these children a safe and loving home free from substance abuse – don’t knock that as “aggressive action.”

    One other thing to keep in mind about that is that to the extent your children will be identified or their medical records would be admitted into evidence, if there is any publicity about the fact that this was their biological mom, that could have some negative impact on their lives as well – not just from the public perception, but also from the “if this is what my mom was like, then I must be bad seed” variety.

    I don’t know if I’ve given you any help – I hope so. I think it’s wonderful that you have adopted these children, and I hope that your family grows closer together the more time you spend with each other!

  4. nikki says:

    Everyone has an active choice is every part of their life. I have never liked the down play of others DECISIONS being made into a “disease.” To me, in my opinion, I believe a “disease” is some thing you don’t choose for yourself. A disease is a an illness unprovoked by decision. So yea, I think it’s that person unwilling to take responsibility. I’m VERY BIG on taking responsibility for our actions. They choose to smoke, drink, eat..what have you. By calling that a disease I think is taking the responsibility away from them. All actions come with consequences. Fully knowing this and still doing these things is called selfish and irresponsible (not taking responsibility)

    This bio mom should be court ordered to be in rehab, along with the bio dad. I bet you feel like your hands are tied. You can’t stop her from having sex, and having yet another baby addicted to drugs. If the bio mom is out of jail, I would I’m sorry, I would be calling CPS every darn day if I had too. Why isn’t she being court ordered to take drug tests? I don’t know the full story here but that’s what I would do. What they do very much affects your life, you must have some say in something!

  5. Joy says:

    Do you mean to tell me after all of this, she got NO jail time??? WOW!! I thought she was there now. I do agree with lawyerchick, keep your mouth shut until your legalities are over.

  6. Sharon says:

    In regards to your 1st issue with substance abuse being categorized as a disease – I think of the behaviors you address as addictions as opposed to disease. However, is an addiction a disease? Unfortunately regardless of what its called the “disease” or “addiction” is handled in much the same way. Who would have thought 30 years ago when your father or grandfather were struggling with their addiction/disease that the time would come when our medical insurance would cover in or outpatient treatment plans, employers would allow time off from work to begin or stay in treatment (some companies actually paying for the treatment & holding the position open until “treatment” was over and the employee is “cured”). Once an alcoholic or drug addict , you continue to be an addict – only changing from a “active addict” to a “recovering addict or alcoholic”. And of course our tax dollars pay for clinics where the addict can receive treatment to overcome their ailment (I wonder what the long-term success rates end up being, or return customer rate?Hmmmm… Sorry, went off on that topic instead of the more important one involving the children. But just for informational purposes, one of the definitions for disease – …”A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.” I guess using that definition the abuse may qualify as a disease.
    This is just an opinion, but I think you have to stop thinking in terms of who “should of or could of”. All that baggage has to be put behind you so that your family can move forward in a positive and blessed life. It’s not going to serve any purpose now. Do not let their (bio-parents) decisions steal your joy which is what is going to happen if you don’t let go of it. They will continue to have a mental stronghold on you which you don’t want to pass on down to the kids. The generational curse is broken so focus & grow in that knowledge. (just an opinion)
    However, what could or should have been done? Without being able to go into detail I do have some bit of information as far as a reporting standpoint. From my limited knowledge of the requirements of reporting abuse, and even less knowledge on the legality of all that you describe, even though there were events involving the parents prior to the birth of your son I don’t recall any “authorities” being involved as far as DSS and allegations of neglect and/or abuse. (Perhaps some domestic violence issues) But, when the child was born & tested positive for drugs I would think the doctor or nurses would have had to report this to DSS. (And do you know for a fact that they didn’t. That may have been all they are required to do, then its DSS responsibility. )I don’t think the police could do anything as the mother wasn’t actually seen using nor did she have drugs on her at the time so I can understand perhaps not involving them (at this stage). But the addicted child would qualify by SC state guidelines as a “neglected & abused” child. Based on that DSS should have received the call. DSS should have gone to the hospital (in lieu of a home well baby checkj) and they can call the police and DSS can take the infant into protective custody. Within a couple of days (not sure exactly if its 36 hours or not) DSS would have to file a “rule to show cause motion” in family court to show why they took the child into protective custody. If the judge finds that the removal was warranted then DSS can do a foster care placement (their are families that are trained & qualified for special needs children – which he may have fallen into this category). DSS also can make immediate contact with a family member to do a “relative placement” pending a home study – if there is a relative that would accept the child/children. I think we know how that went! If the infant was taken, depending on where or who the “older child was residing with would probably determine if they would go & get her as well. So….probably a lot of things should have happened that didn’t. Thats the system, thats DSS, thats no $$$$$$$ to fund more caseworkers. But don’t get me wrong it still should have been reported as far as the baby’s condition at birth.
    Now, should you do anything. No. Its done. Not only do you know what should have happened but we also know that the bio-parents families knew & didn’t do anything! Pretty sad.
    If she gets pregnant again & has an addicted baby are you going to be responsible if you don’t report it? No. Because typically you wouldn’t have that information. Based on the HIPPA laws you legally would not have access to any medical records other than those of YOUR children. Not the bio-mother, father or future children.
    Now if you heard from one of their family members that is still in contact with you that she was again pregnant, still doing drugs, etc. should you report it? Probably so. But all you would be able to do is possibly call DSS and you would be making an allegation based on information someone else gave you. But you could do it.
    However you are going to be so focused & busy with the kids you won’t have time or energy to worry about what the bio parents are up to.
    Sorry, you probably got more than you bargained for when you asked me. Move on Mike. Didn’t you have enough days in court, DSS visits (or lack of), etc! over the past few YEARS.

    “Forgiveness is an act of faith. I trust God is a better justice maker than I am. I leave the issues of fairness to God. In God’s hands I leave the scales that balance justice & mercy.”

  7. I understand that you are angry. (Believe me, I’ve been on the OTHER side of the system that refuses to hold parents accountable for their actions.)

    The truth of the matter is that we cannot make anyone be anything but what they are. They will face the consequences of their actions (at some point) but it is up to them to decide whether to take steps forward to change.

    As for whether addiction to drug and alcohol is a “real” disease, this is one of those things that cannot be proven or disproved based on your sole experience with it. Just because you were able to quit (or transfer) your dependence on drugs, etc. doesn’t mean that it works the same way for everyone.

    My father was able to quit drugs, alcohol, and smoking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous – but that didn’t suddenly make him a better parent. The drugs were not the problem. He had been clean and sober for over a decade when he tried to kill me.

    I get that the continued drug use makes you angry (hell, it makes ME angry) but if they quit using they would still be – let’s be honest – craptacular parents.

    Anyway, my heart is with you. My advice would be to deal with the children ONLY and to not cast aspersions on their biological parents. Attacking them parents would only confuse your little ones and possibly make them resentful.

  8. Enola says:

    Well Lawyerchik said it best and took the words out of my mouth.

    Child Protective Services is overworked and understaffed. I am NOT making excuses for them. But my point in that is to say that if mom is in jail and kids are in your custody, then what other remedy is there? What result do you foresee or want? I do not see an agency spending a lot of time and resources at this point in time given that the kids are safe now. They should have spent it then, but you know that.

    Also legally, it is very hard to keep someone from doing drugs, even in prison. Drugs are rampant even there, even on so-called “rehab” prisons. So even the best efforts may not have prevented bio mom from using drugs while pregnant. And that is when the damage was done.

    I would have thought the baby would have been taken away immediately when born addicted, but I’m guessing that is not what happened? If it did not happen, then I’d ask why and what steps the authorities have taken to make sure it didn’t/doesn’t happen again.

    As far as teh whole disease thing, I’m not knowledgeable enough to know about that, but IF it is a disease, then the sufferer still must take responsibility for living with it and treating it. I have health isues that I must be responsible for. Most of us do.

  9. Michelle says:

    I agree with lawyerchik. We all know that CPS in every state are overworked and do NOT do their jobs properly. At some point in time your kids are going to have questions about the “bio” parents. The most important thing is for them to know that they are loved and taken care of. If you start asking questions now about how jobs were/weren’t done when YOUR son was born they might decied that the kids need to be somewhere else no matter how long you have had them or been involved with the “bio” parents. For now “LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE” (as Daddy would say)

  10. Hobo says:

    I agree, make sure the kids are legally little C’s first and foremost.
    Then if you pursue this matter make sure you don’t do it because you are known for not taking the easy way out. But becuase you have talked it over with the Lord and He gave you that discernment in which way to respond.

    You’ll do the right thing……….

    Love to All…………

  11. dodie says:

    Sort of just skimmed over everyone else’s opinions. Mostly intelligent and well thought out, I would say.

    In short:
    Keep your mouth shut to “the authorities” (CPS or whoever) until you have final custody of those kids. Don’t worry about what might happen in the future. Do what you can for the children in your care now.

    As far as the whole “is addiction a disease” question, I can only say this: I’m an addict and I did not choose to be one. Some people can drink or do drugs “recreationally.” Others cannot. The important thing for you to consider (IMHO) is that if the biological parents of your two adopted kids are addicts, BIG RED FLAG. If addiction is in their genetic make-up, they are especially vulnerable.

    As we all know, it is better/easier/preferable to prevent a behavior than to correct it. Some people can’t “just say no.” Make sure you talk to your kids about drugs.

    Easy advice from someone without kids! LOL!

    Good luck!


  12. Sue says:

    I’m with everyone else at this point. Make sure those papers are signed, sealed and delievered and then take action if you feel it’s necessary. You will do the right thing, you always do and those children are very lucky to have such loving parents now.

  13. Amber says:

    I know this is a very hard topic. When does something become a “disease”. Medically there are perameters for a behaviour to become a disease. Certain criterea have to be met. I know it is difficult for a lay person to understand, but drug addiction and obesity are diseases. Left unchecked, they get worse. Addiction changes the chemicals in the brain. Normal reasoning goes out the window.

    Being born addicted to pot, and having a predisposition to addiction in general doesn’t mean that you will automatically be an addict. Education and environment could easily change those things.

    I do think you should bring this up…….. Even if it causes hassle. Because you never know what help you’ll need at your disposal in the future to help combat what comes up for these kids.

    Just my two cents.

  14. mssc54 says:

    mssc54″s reply to all commenters on this post:

    I want to thank each and every one of you for making the time to think this through and offer me some very well thought out advice.

    Yes I know that (ultimately) God is in control. However, I don’t want to end like the guy in the joke on top of his house during a severe flood. The guy on the house kept praying for God to save him. Somebody came by in a boat and the guy told them that he was going to stay because God was going to save him. He continued to pray for God to save him. Later a helicopter came by. He told them that God was going to save him. Eventually the guy drowned. When he met God he asked God why He didn’t save him. God asked him, “Who do you think sent the boat and the helicopeer?” So I believe that we all have our part to do when relying on God to move.

    So here’s what I’ve decided (for now). Tomorrow (April 29th, 2009) at 11:30 a.m. when we go to sign the adoption paper work I’m not going to say anything about the past failures of “The System.” I will be as polite and cordial as humanly possible.

    Then after we go to court and the kids’ are ours legally… well, that’s when the proverbial poo is going to hit the fan. I am sick and tired of people complaining about how screwed up “The system” is but are unwilling to make any effort to hold incompetant people accountable and make those in power aware of “The System’s” failure by using documents to prove that fact.

    I’m going to begin drafting a letter to the Governor of South Carolina.

    Once again, thank you (each and everyone) for calming me just a bit.

  15. sandra lundgren says:

    I adopted 2 children, ages 7 & 9 form junkie parents. The little girl age 7 could not read or write but could cook heroine and clean needles. Last September, the state called me to ask if I would be pre adoptive mom to a baby boy born addicted to drugs. Ironically, same biological parents. This is the 3rd child nearly destroyed by these animals, yet the state of MA continues to cut them checks every week for their so called disability and denied me any assistance in raising this baby. They say there’s no money. But they find the money to fund these people who continue to make horrific desicions every day. Why are these women not tubilized after 1,2,3 children. This is where health care reform should begin. WHO AGREES? Every tax payer I’ve spoken to is appauled at this decision. Why don’t our voices matter. The state should deduct any costs in raising their children from their checks. My situation is only 1 of many. Why don’t these children matter to our corrupt state. They matter to me and many more families. Neither parent has sufferedf any consequences, criminally or monetary! THEY CONTINUE TO BE PAID BY OUR STATE> THAT IS WHY THE ECONOMY IS FAILING. Just imagine, would you rather be helping these children or enabling these people to sit around, get high, destroy lives and get paid for it. What a life. Our seniors can’t even afford their medicine but these junkies get Mass Health with no co-pays. There are to many hard working people who can’t make ends meet or supply their innocent children with health care coverage. IMAGINE THE MONEY OUR STATE PAYS OUT IN 1 YEAR TO THESE PEOPLE

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