Babies addicted to heroin: Who will take them home?
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - They are the smallest victims of the heroin epidemic - babies born addicted.
According to social workers, 70 percent of infants in the care of Ohio's welfare agencies are there because of opiate addiction.
Babies born addicted face huge obstacles, but there is hope.
"She's just amazing," said Karabeth Bolin.
Bolin can't help but get emotional about her six-month old daughter, Ellynn. Like most new parents, she and her wife Carrie are absolutely "in love" with their baby girl.
"She's a joy - very, very happy baby," said Bolin.
Bolin said Ellynn was born three months premature, addicted to heroin and abandoned by her birth mother.
"Yeah, she left the hospital the next day," said Bolin.
Video obtained by FOX19 NOW shows the reality of what opiates can do to a newborn baby, which includes severe shaking. According to the American Pregnancy Association, heroin use during pregnancy can lead to the following conditions in the baby: premature birth and/or low birth weight, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), bleeding in the brain, impaired ability to breathe
The Bolins say when social workers called them, potential problems from prenatal heroin exposure weren't a factor.
'It didn't skip a beat of us taking her due to being told that, if anything it made us want her more because a child needs loves unconditionally, but a child who's been through that kind of trauma before they've entered the world needs even more love," said Bolin.
Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services director Moira Weir says the agency's caseload continues to grow as heroin affects more families.
"Some of our kids have seen their parents OD right in front of them," said Weir.
In 2015, Weir said 192 kids entered the system due to heroin, that's not including all the cases where the drug was a contributing factor as well.
Children are also staying in the system longer because heroin users have higher relapse rates.
"I mean, they say it can stay in your system for five, six years, so really the struggle to stay clean is very difficult," said Weir.
Weir says the agency provides specialized training and support for foster and adoptive parents willing to take children born with drug addictions.
Babies born addicted to opiates can face long-term medical and behavioral issues.
Baby Ellynn is on special formula and vitamins because of her premature birth and drug exposure.
Her adoptive parents say they can't look at Ellynn without thinking of her birth mother.
"We hope that she's well and we know that the addiction is what did it," said Bolin.
But the Bolins are focused on the future -- and expanding their family. In addition to Ellynn, they are also foster parents to a set of twin baby boys.
The family's now made it their mission to encourage anyone with room in their homes and hearts to consider fostering, Bolin was once a foster kid herself.
"I am blessed and thankful for the system. These children need a chance they deserve it," said Bolin.
If you'd like more information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit HCJFS.org.
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