Addiction is a major factor in children being placed in foster care. Many parents struggling with addiction fear that reaching out for treatment will lead to a child welfare investigation, yet living with addiction also puts kids at risk. Stories in this section offer guidance and information on getting clean, repairing relationships with children affected by addiction, and knowing your legal rights in seeking treatment.

A Step in My Direction – I wanted to be left alone but kindness helped me find my way

My kids were taken into custody in 2007. I was using meth and selling also.

I never, ever wanted to hurt my kids. I thought I loved them with all my heart.

At the time, Jayme was 2 and Sheryl was 3. My kids loved to be with me. I rode a bike with a trailer attached to the back that the kids loved to ride in. They would cry when … Read More

The Color of Hope: Race can affect whether parents get the support to overcome.

My child welfare story (Shrounda) began when I moved into a neighborhood high in drug use and poverty. I was an African-American woman in my mid-30s, married with two children. I was arrogant—I thought I could control my drug use and that my surroundings wouldn’t affect me. Instead I found myself in the depth of an ever-evolving addiction. I went from using alcohol and cocaine to using crack daily. I desired so much out of … Read More

Black, Male, Addicted–and Underestimated – The child welfare system assumed I didn’t belong in my children’s lives.

Child welfare came into my life in 2000. At the time, I was married with three children, ages 14, 11 and a newborn. I was also an addict.

I used anything that got me high: glue, coke, heroin, valium. I started getting high to belong with the bad guys in the neighborhood and I continued for 35 years.

Because of my drug use, I could not hold a job for long and at times I was an … Read More

Smoking Away the Pain – Can I face life without marijuana or will I fall apart?

For 25 years, I’ve been smoking marijuana to cope with a lifetime oftrauma.

When I was young, my family life had some order. My sister’s father and my mother had strict rules for us. We went to church and my sister and I sang in the choir. I remember singing on the fire escape with my sister. People passing by would stop to listen.

But my mom also hit and kicked … Read More

Alive, Sober and Sorry – I want my children to know me but my family told them that I’m dead.

Illustration by Elizabeth Deegan

I was 9 years old when I started getting drunk. I would sit in my friend’s house in her brother’s room where the walls were black and the lights were black and everything glowed in the dark. It was 1969. As she played slow music I’d drink Mad Dog 20-20 and cry because the pain I felt was overwhelming.

I cried because my first memories were of getting hit by my … Read More