Negative comments left my children confused and scared.
One day when I was visiting my two youngest children, they asked me, “Mommy, where do you live?”
“Mommy lives in a hospital for now until she gets stronger,” I said. In fact, I was in a drug treatment facility, but I didn’t want my children to know. They were only 6 and 7. I thought they were too young to understand.
Called a ‘Crackhead’
Then, during an overnight visit, my daughter said to me, “You’re a crackhead!”
I asked my baby, “Who told you that I was a crackhead?”
She said, “Auntie Dana (her foster mother) told me that you were on drugs.”
I was devastated. I was not ready to explain. I just said, “Well, Princess, do not always believe what everyone tells you about Mommy.” That was the best that I could do.
How Do I Explain?
Over time, I found out that my children had heard many negative things about me from their foster parents. I had placed my children with family friends, but these people were gossiping about me and scaring my children. They would say, “Your mother is a crackhead,” or, “She doesn’t want you.”
My kids seemed confused and overwhelmed. I knew I needed to find a way to explain the truth to my children. I was very confused about how I would explain my addiction.
I didn’t want to overwhelm my kids with too much information, but I also didn’t want them to feel that there were secrets between us.
I Wished I Knew
I understood what my kids were going through. When I was younger, my parents did not care for my siblings and me. We went back and forth between homes, seeing our mother here and there. I always wondered why. My family never explained her addiction and I was afraid to ask.
I wanted to be with my mom. I ran away to look for her and I found her in an abandoned building. That was when I found out she was a drug addict. I was shocked. I wish I’d understood more about my parents’ addiction. But my children’s foster parents have been too open with my children and too judgmental of me.
So a few weeks ago, during an overnight visit, I sat down with my kids to begin to repair the damage. I said, “It’s true that I was on drugs. Addiction is a sickness that Mommy has. I am in recovery. That means that I will keep taking care of myself by taking medication and going to meetings for the rest of my life.”
I also told them, “I could not take care of you because I was on drugs but it will never happen again. I put you with other people because I love you and foster care was the best option at the time.”
They said, “Why, Mommy? Why were you sick?”
I told them, “Addiction is an illness. It’s just like when you get sick and Mommy gives you medicine to make you better. You can be happy that Mommy got herself better. Soon we will be back together as a family.”
Now my children are home. I take one day at a time. I try to stay calm and not get too emotional. My kids and I are bonding. I give them hugs and kisses. If I give my son two kisses, my daughter wants two more.
But I think the negative comments they heard about my addiction have had a bad effect on my children. My son even said to me: “Mommy doesn’t love me.”
When my kids are not listening to me, I feel like they’re saying to themselves, “I do not have to listen to her because she is a crackhead and she left me to live with someone else.”
My children need to be deprogrammed after hearing so many negative things about me. I hope they will come to understand that I loved them even though I used drugs, and that we can move on together.