What Happens To Children of Addicted Parents
We tend to think of the foster children who come to camps such as Royal Family KIDS Camp every summer, as children who come from single-mother households in drug and gang infested neighborhoods. We think of them as the kids who are moved from grade to grade despite limited understanding of the material taught. Many people tend to think of foster children as kids with language barriers and learning deficits, and low expectations for their futures. This accurately describes many of the kids in the foster care system throughout the country.
We don’t tend to think of the children from homes in our own neighborhoods as foster children, but more and more are. Kids from neighborhoods like ours are going into the foster care system because of their parent’s addiction. Can you imagine what it must feel like for a child who came from a safe home in a nice neighborhood, from a good school with good friends, with a TV, xbox, smart phone, iPad, and all the right clothes and shoes to be suddenly ripped out of the only life she’s known and left with strangers?
Many people tend to think that life in foster care would be easier for this child because she knows she’s loved, and because she probably doesn’t have the educational deficits of other foster kids. She likely came from a good school with good teachers, with a state-of-the-art computer lab and so on. In some cases, this child will have an even more difficult time in foster care.
Many times, other foster kids in the home will pick on her because she has what they don’t have. She shows up with the name brand clothes and the expensive sneakers they wish they had. Her cell phone is the first thing to go. When she falls asleep or takes a shower, the other kids go through her stuff. They take what they want and cut, tear, or stain the rest of her things to make sure she knows that she’s no better than them. In their minds, they’re bringing her down to their level. Some envious kids don’t stop there. When they come from a home where violence wins conflict, they’ll cut her hair off while she sleeps, punch her or spit in her food when the foster parents aren’t watching, and in the worst cases, violate her with her own hair brush.
The little girl from a good home suddenly finds herself on a terrifying roller coaster that she can’t stop, all because mom’s doctor quit prescribing her pain pills. Mom started buying the pills online, but they were too expensive. She soon learned that crystal meth eased the pain and is much cheaper. As mom deteriorates, so do her relationships. She loses her job, her marriage falls apart, and before she knows it, she’s behind on the mortgage payments and is evicted. Somewhere in this spiral downward, her children are taken into foster care.
So what happens to children of addicted parents? They feel the excruciating pain of abandonment by the parent who chose drugs over them. They often lose hope. They begin using drugs to medicate their pain. They become like the kids they spend the most time with. They’re more susceptible to being lured into trafficking because they are desperate to feel wanted again. The average life span of a child who is trafficked is seven years old.
Adults who were in the foster care system have a high rate of homelessness, addiction, depression, and suicide. The good news is that Royal Family KIDS gives a lifeline of hope to foster children who come from these types of neighborhoods, to children who have never seen healthy family interaction, and to every foster child in between.