This particular story did not happen in Carter County but it could have.
A five-year-old boy’s grandmother carefully unwrapped the Velcro-tipped strap tethered to the youngster’s wrist. She is embarrassed by treating him like a pet animal but it was the only way she could keep him from running away.
She handed the crying, struggling child to a Sunday school teacher whose only responsibility each week is to keep him under control so that his frantic, unpredictable behavior does not distract other children. He is a class of one.
Tragically, this child was born to an opioid-addicted mother and father who are incarcerated and have lost their parental rights. Both have failed in repeated rehabilitation attempts.
Almost by default, the 65-year-old grandmother and her husband were given custody of the little boy who already is experiencing medical, developmental, and behavioral issues. He is non-verbal most of the time and cries easily.
With a 60-year age difference, how long will these grandparents be able to raise him?
He most likely will become a permanent ward of the state and end up in a residential facility for the rest of his life. Special needs children like him are not the most popular candidates for adoption.
Hospital workers who care for drug-addicted infants tell of the heartache they feel when a newborn craves heroin instead of milk because of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
In many cases, small doses of the mother’s drug of choice will be administered to ease the baby’s suffering in withdrawal. However, escaping that dependency does not mean the baby will be free of after-effects.
That brings me to a nagging question. As we spend untold millions of dollars to treat adult addicts, what are we doing for their innocent victims whose quality of life is virtually non-existent?
Keith can be reached at email@example.com.