She Was Addicted and Lost Her Son. She Wants Him Back.

Lindsey Jarratt is now sober and on solid ground. Still, her child remains in foster care.

Comments: 208

  1. While parents attempt to get their lives together, children continue to need love, stability and a safe environment. States decided to narrow the time parents have to clean up their act because that is deemed to be in the best interest of the children. The fact that none of the mom’s family or friends are considered responsible guardians speaks volumes. Good for her for “months” of clean time. But that’s not really much of a track record to be give custody of a child. Of course it’s sad. But the child’s future is given a higher priority by the state.

  2. @Michael Haddon, if that were the case, the state would make more effort to help the mother and make sure she is united with her son.

  3. Is she still with the boyfriend/father of her kids who has had a longer problem with heroin? The article seems not to take the little boy's welfare into account. Nice that the dad was excited over a onsie - but that has nothing to do with parenting. Addiction is terrible and we need to be compassionate. But addicts dont make good parents so i am not going to play the poor, heart of gold drug addict vs. bad, unfair system game that the reporter is playing. She lost custody of her son because of her addiction. Still, I hope this woman can get her son back. I also hope she has enough sense to stay away from that man. Together it appears they cant stay clean. They can make children but not good decisions.

  4. @Suzanne I agree. When I read that she was pregnant with another child with this same man, my sympathy waned. This represents poor judgment and poor self control - sadly, portents of problems in the future for her and her children.

  5. I found odd that the tattoo is considered such a profound 'constant reminder' of her son. That, like many other sincere efforts is not sufficient to having the persistence of parenting. It takes a few hours to get a tattoo, it takes decades for a child to overcome such a rocky beginning. You really don't get a lot of chances to get infancy and early childhood right. Their physical and psychological future is at stake.

  6. Do the family members also have a record? Normally I would think they might be considered unless they also have some history of drug use or foster care involvement. As for the child, he cannot be expected to wait for months and years while his parents go into treatment, relapse, and then go back to treatment. At some point, regardless of sympathy for the parents, enough is enough. I don’t know if it reached that point with this particular child, but I don’t think life with drug addicted parents would be in a child’s best interests.

  7. @Bookworm8571 I would love to know if any effort was made by Ms. Interlandi to verify the reason why the maternal grandmother was not considered for familial placement initially (or at any time before termination of parental rights). All of these decisions must be documented in the case file - not the random remark at a "recent hearing." There is too much missing information for any real meaningful context here, starting with how Ms. Jarratt first came to the attention of CPS. If she was truly sober during the pregnancy, none of the blood tests would have triggered CPS intervention.

  8. @Bookworm8571 Legally they MUST give preference to family and family friends but if they have a serious criminal record (murder, attempted murder sexual assault, armed robbery, serious assault, any crime against a child ect), a recent (within 5-10 years) drug or DUI conviction or can not provide safe housing (running water, electricty, a bed) then they will not be approved. Often an otherwise eligible family member lives with or is married to someone who has an ineligible conviction and in that case they must either seperate or can not take the child. The majority of children in our county are adopted by relatives (who in our state receive the same compenation as all foster/adoptive parents).

  9. I'm shocked at the comments I see - your child should not be taken away and given to someone else. You are always that child's mother. The child was in a bad situation with the mom - fine, take the child until the mom can take him back. She is so lucky that she had such a support system - child services seems to think her whole family is suspect b/c Lindsey has issues. Let he who is without sin ... Everyone goes through dark times, that does not mean your parental rights should ever be terminated. The comments focus on the child, can you be so sure about the environment he'll grow up in? How about the adult and the problems this separation will cause long term. We have so many problems in this country right now, but not terminating parental rights should be on someone's radar

  10. @nm.lettersThese "foster parents" seem like opportunist adoptees, not child advocates. we have an opiate crisis which they are preying on.

  11. @nm.letters - People that raise and provide a safe stable loving home are parents. Anyone can birth a child, not everyone can parent. And there are plenty of reasons for cutting off custody from a biological parent - severe abuse and neglect are usually the main reason. There is another side of the story that is not presented in this article.

  12. @nm.letters The comments here should focus on the child.

  13. I have never understood why kids of addicts are often placed with their grandparents. After all those grandparents have already raised kids that turn out to be addicts and have generally made bad decisions. Deciding to get clean once you are pregnant is hardly the correct decision. Deciding to get clean before you get pregnant and giving your child a stable environment to come home to, demonstrates the resolve needed to be a good parent. While this is a sad situation, the most important person in the equation is neither parent, it is the child. The critical years for a child are the earliest years, when a child's brain is growing and he is learning socialization skills. He needs a stable environment, not one in which his parents are making an effort. The effort should have been made before the child was born.

  14. @thewriterstuff Are you seriously suggesting that it's 100% the parent's fault if someone turns to drugs? How many families have several healthy kids, but one gets offered drugs at just the wrong time? What a horrible thing to say. I know more than one person who tragically "lost" a kid to drugs but was able to raise their grandchild. Drugs are not evidence of evil parents. They are a scourge that affects people at their lowest point. I'm truly shocked that someone would say that a grandparent shouldn't be able to care for a child just because one of their children made a bad choice.

  15. Maybe because addiction isn’t always from bad parenting. Maybe she was raped. Maybe she has a non-genetic mental health issue. Maybe she fell in with the wrong group of friends. Good grief.

  16. A child is always best reunited with his/her biological parent if the parent and child want this and if the parent has straightened out and is now responsible. It sounds like this is the case. Sounds like the state is holding her kid hostage.

  17. Heroin addiction never ends, it requires a life time of management and success often remains fragile. Not using heroin for “a few months” is a long, long way from being ‘straightened out’. This report is far more emotionally, rather than factually-based, but the story could perhaps provide an object lesson. One child of addict parents raised at home, the sibling in care would at least present a direct comparison of outcome.

  18. This may be a bit off topic, but my deceased grandparents in Boston had neighbors many years ago who were both alcoholics. Unfortunately, they both had terrible drinking problems. They had a young daughter who was being subjected to this terrible home life. The woman's brother and wife were able to adopt through the courts proving the family life was terribly unsuitable for the girl. It was a very sad and unfortunate situation for this youngster and her parents but the brother did not want this poor girl brought up in this environment. He was thinking of the child who went on to have a very happy life, married well and had children of her own. Not all children were as lucky as this girl. My point is that we must put the wellbeing of children before the parents. Children are impressionable and drug addicted parents can scar a child for life. I know people who have been brought up in alcoholic homes and it is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It can have a lasting negative effect that never goes away. The children must always come first. They are precious.

  19. CPS agencies across the U.S. have a compelling reason to take away children and not placing them with relatives. It has nothing to do with the best interests of the children. It has to do with the $5,000 to $8,000 matching federal incentive money for every adoption and the matching funds for administrative and foster care. This is a legacy of the Clintons and their Safe Adoptions and Families Act. Politicians, the media, pediatrician organizations, etc. are all worked up about immigrant children being separated from their parents but nary a word is said about the hundreds of thousands of American children being stolen from their families every day. For example, I wrote to Nicolas Kristof of the NY Times after he went after Trump and got no answer. The same with Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. There is very little due process in legal proceedings to take away children in state juvenile dependency courts. The proceedings are pretty much similar to what happen in the Soviet Union or China.

  20. Heroin addiction is really tough. Most quit many times before they find sobriety. But, children want and need to be with their parents. Heroin addiction is a rocky start to life. Being taken from a parent or parents that very much want the child is not just a start, it is a whole life. I have an adult child that had very little contact with his alcoholic Father growing up. In hindsight, I believe it would have been better for all of us if there had been consistent contact. There could be a sober person present while the child and addict are together. I believe that we need to further research on how to keep children with their biological parents and how to support parents and children together.

  21. @Lydia. You should speak with adults who were raised by drug addicted parents and see if they agree with you that they needed their biological parents.

  22. @Lydia - this is one of the most irresponsible posts I have ever read anywhere. Working with drug-addicted parents who are in court-mandated behavioral health care, I cannot help but wonder why you would say any of this. A sober person "present while the child and addict are together" does nothing to prevent an addict from saying or doing terribly destructive, traumatizing things. Children want to believe that there parents/caregivers are good/normal/loving, etc., and will twist things up in their developing minds, often resulting in self-blame, confusion, and self-hatred for the conduct of others. To everything you are saying (other than that heroin addiction is really tough and most people take several tries before they get close to quitting), no no no. Children can only take advantage of their natural resilience if they have a chance to survive in the first place. No children remaining with addicts who are at statistically significant risk of abusing.

  23. I read the comment about speedy adoptions and wondered if the writer had ever seen the result of protracted custody situations. Kids bounce back and forth between their sometimes-clean parents, family members, and foster care. Suddenly they are too old to be adoptable and they become the sad pictures of 12 year old wards of the state looking for their forever homes with bios that indicate they are suffering permanent PTSD and destabilization anxiety. Seems like a speedy adoption to a good loving home is a move in the best interest of the child.

  24. @Liz Siler To add to this there are no speedy adoptions in foster care. Parents legally have almost 2 years to show they are making progress. Only after that are parental rights terminated. The exception can be when older siblings have already had their rights terminated but often the parents get a whole new almost 2 year window with the younger child. Then the state must make sure they have an adoptive home for the child. Typically judges will not terminate rights until an adoptive home has been found. Then the child must live with the adoptive family for anywhere between 3-12 months depending on the state before they can move to adopt. Unless the parent willingly gives up custody (some do because they know they can't provide care or because it may allow them to avoid criminal charges) the path to adoption for a child is quite slow.

  25. I used to think adopting from foster care would be a great idea. After reading this and several other articles, I’m afraid the ethics of the system are too murky.

  26. Even if you choose not to adopt there are many ways you can be a positive force for children in the foster system. Especially older children in foster care.

  27. @Navah. Children are not the property of their parents. Even animals are removed from homes for neglect. But it is murky, i agree. Still foster care is filled with kids who kept going back to their troubled parents only to be taken away again. These kids are badly damaged. The goal is to release lids earlier for adoption and give them a chance at a mormal life. Why not speak to adults who were adopted out of foster care?

  28. @Sutton Hamilton, MD If there is a CASA program in your area, I encourage you to investigate it. Volunteers advocate for the needs of children in these situations.

  29. Please don't think evil of people who become drug addicted. My best friends and next door neighbors had very minimal health insurance and could not afford all the operations required to rebuild the young woman's foot. When she had the wreck she was sober and the extreme pain she suffered made her seek Oxy as a means of controlling the pain. She died and now the mother/father are raising the 12 YO man as their own with home schooling. Many home school children parents are seeking to avoid any contact with religion they don't believe should be taught. Many years ago when I joined Coca-Cola and was a charging young buck in the Brand Coca-Cola group because I could speak German. Up front we acknowledged the Metro Atlanta schools were horrible and offered to pay for private schools. THERE was not a racial element - the Germans had then and still now have an excellent school system. Fortunately STEM are the vast majority of specialized studies. We said that liberal arts bakes no bread. The key is parental involvement - my mother worked 6 days a week and my father 7. I was a terrible student at Purdue. My favorite course was taught by Pete Kares a grad student. It was using mathematical models in making decisions. When it came time to present the results to top company and agency managers, my immediate supervisor, John Avery made such a hash of it he was told to sit down. Pete Sealey made the pitch - WOW they immediately approved a $100 adv. million increase.

  30. I am not sure what the "right" answer is, but when I was considering adopting a child I felt that open adoption was the way I wanted to go... this way the child and biological parents can have contact if they want to. I grew up with a a lot of step parents etc around and I didn't find it confusing. Also, creating a romantic mystery for the child can make them want to run away to find their "real" parents later on, which is more dangerous than just letting the air out of the balloon slowly. This just seems the most compassionate way to go, unless the child is in danger of abuse.

  31. I’m an adoptive mom. Both my kids were adopted as young infants. They both exhibited signs of severe separation anxiety from the moment we brought them home. They still carries the scars of that pain today. In our case, the parents willingly placed their children for adoption. I believe the wounds of abandonment in adopted children are unfathomable. If parents are willing, our society should do everything we can to assist them in their desire and attempts to be good parents. Would-be adoptive parents will, sadly, have plenty of children left to shelter and love, if they wish.

  32. @Sarah Conner And what about the damage that might be done to a child’s psyche by removing him from a stable and loving adoptive or foster to adopt home after several months or years? Or the damage done to kids who are yanked out of their homes, returned to their parents, only to be yo yoed back to foster care yet again when the parents relapse? I’m sure adoptees do have abandonment issues, but kids are also damaged by their biological relatives. There are no perfect solutions, but I don’t think very small children benefit from such chaos. I also have to question why the mother had another child when her first is in foster care and her sobriety is a fairly recent thing. It might have made more sense to wait a few years until she is hopefully more stable. I hope she will not lose the second baby and can stay clean.

  33. @Sarah Conner you are so correct about the damage done to children thought separation anxiety. The risk to children whose parents may lapse back into drug abuse are huge. When under the influence of drugs, parents can not protect their children from abusers who may be in the home. These kinds of situations are not mentioned in these stories but I know, as a former foster mother, how common this senerio can be. It is a hard call.

  34. @Sarah Conner My partner was substance exposed both prenatally and during his early childood. That has left both physical (brain) and emotional damage he will deal with the rest of his life. He does not believe being left with his mom was the right choice. While some adopted children do have emotional scars there are ways to decrease this (open adoption being a main one) and the alternative is to leave children in often severely damaging environments. Seeing this first hand I would favor an adoptive home with an open adoption (if safe) vs leaving a child in a home with drug addiction.

  35. Child Protective Services exists to protect children, like the Drug Enforcement Administration exists to enforce sensible drug policy. I don’t know how we have what amounts to a nationalized child trafficking ring, operated primarily by social workers, but I certainly have read some mind-blowing accounts of their handiwork.

  36. @ubique There is some truth in what you write...signed a former foster mother.

  37. My childhood revolved around my aunt's addiction --- my mother's obsession with saving her sister meant my life was one big drama after another. Nothing was peaceful, and my needs were secondary. I grew up believing life was one big emergency. Children in foster care should not be shuttled around from one home to another -- that's just abuse. But this woman should recognize that her addiction makes her unfit and that if she truly loves her son, she will let him go to a stable home that loves him. She is not the baby.

  38. @KatheM It sounds like this little boy only had one move. They likely placed him in the near by home because they were working to reunify. It sounds like that home was not open to adopting. Many people will not adopt young children who've been substance exposed because of the possible long term effects. Ideally a home close to mom who could adopt would have been available but when it's not, as it seems in this case, and the plan changes to adoption they have to find an adoptive home. Depending on the child's needs, which we don't know from the article, this can be difficult and may see the child moved far away, even out of state. If this little boy only moved once he's very lucky. In some states all families doing foster care must also be certified to adopt so as to discourage multiple moves. They don't have to adopt of course but being already certified to adopt makes it easier.

  39. @JJ From the article, I believe he was replaced in a pre-adoptive home. You are correct about the push to make all homes potential adoptive homes it's part of federal legislation. And at the same time foster parents are told to be ready to let go at a moment's notice -- an incredibly tough role.

  40. This is a tough one. I believe the number one consideration must be getting the child into a stable home. A child living in a household with addicts is extremely likely to become an addict as well. This horror is frequently multi-generational. Anything that breaks that is literally a matter of life and death. Get the kids adopted and into a stable home. Sometimes, mistakes such as using drugs, have consequences.

  41. Several of my siblings went through foster care due to our father's heroin addiction. For some, it was a marked improvement; for others, even worse than before. I don't know if the foster care system has improved over the decades since then. I doubt it's become great. But this article almost certainly downplays the risk of letting Ms. Jarrett raise her own daughter. It's a tempting move for those devoted to pointing out systemic injustices (and ignoring the great damage that ordinary individual people can cause). I think Ms. Jarrett's daughter is facing pretty bad odds anyway you play it. Breaks my heart. I feel for Ms. Jarrett too though, just not in the way this article intends.

  42. @Dave I agree; Odds are pretty even that this child will suffer no matter what at this point. But given that, the fundamental right of children and parents to have each other, and for siblings to be together, should win out, in my opinion. When you look at studies comparing the outcome of children in foster care versus children whose parents were able to keep them, foster care looks much much worse. Sometimes that's because the parents who were able to hang onto their kids were fitter than those who lost their children. But at least some of that difference is because foster care is often worse than even abusive or negligent parents.

  43. I strongly doubt this story. Everything is based on what this woman says and is the opposite of actual state laws. I have seen both sides of foster care, both parents losing custody and foster parents placed with kids, in my own family. Often parents who've lost custody have a distorted view of the admittedly imperfect foster care system. Even if we look at addiction as a medical condition that does not provide some protection against losing custody. People can and do lose custody if they are unable to take care of their children for medical reasons. The only way they would not have placed the child with relatives would be if they could not pass a background check or provide a basic, safe home. Legally biological relatives and friends od the family have preference UNLESS they have commited serious crimes or are unable to meet their own basic needs. I feel this article is iresponsible and provides a very unrealistic view of the foster care system. There are real changes that need to be made but a factless article will not change anything. We live with the effects of prenatal substance abuse every day because my partner's mother abused many drugs. I applaud efforts by parents to improve themselves but they have still damaged their children. Parents can move forward but their child may forever have serious damage. This woman has a 2nd chance. She's clean, she has another child, she can push for post adoption contact. I hope she makes the most of it.

  44. @JJ It is a well-known secret that the California law is rigged against parents. The California Supreme Court even went against a U.S. Supreme Court case (Kramer v. Santosky) requiring clear and convincing evidence of parental unfitness to terminate parental rights. In theory, relatives have precedence over stranger but in practice, the counties will try their best to deceive and obstruct relative placements. There are many horror stories of children being abused, neglected and even killed in the foster system. It's really all about the state getting federal matching money. Billions of dollars. Social workers are underpaid and overworked so they take shortcuts. Lawyers appointed by the court to represent parents make about $65 a case a month. They carried an average of 150 cases at the same time. So they are just potted plants and they will likely throw their clients under the bus. If not, they'll starve with that kind of compensation.

  45. @QTP Well that seems odd because in my California county the majority of kids are placed with and adopted by relatives. If they system is so rigged why are relatives being given custody most of the time? Horror stories are often just that...stories. Foster care is not pretty. I have known many people who were in and out of foster care. There is so much that can be improved. But most of the time relatives do get custody even if they are not what most people would consider fit parents.

  46. Perhaps Family Preservation 365 or Save Our Sisters can help. Two wonderful organizations fighting for mothers to keep their children. The Child Welfare System in this country needs much reform.

  47. She doesn't deserve a medal for getting sober once she got pregnant. She is simply going through what many minority women have endured for years, with no one to feel sorry for them. The fact is, odds are high she will relapse & it doesn't seem clear that she's aware that she has a lifetime problem which is NOT a disease & that will always need to be managed. Between that & her boyfriend the felon who suffers from the same disorder, her enabling family & the other child she now has, she has more than she can handle on her own. She has mortgaged her son's future enough. It's time to let him go, get beyond denial of how badly she messed up & focus on her daughter. Providing an environment that will foster better emotional & lifestyle habits in her 2nd child is the only way family history won't repeat itself. Addiction is a result of the interplay between, biology, the social environment & learned coping habits. It's a lot for one person to change & that's the reason her son is not coming back. BTW, there is no cure for addiction,unlike a disease. It has complex causes that interact in different ways & the social settings that result in addiction need to be taken into consideration. Calling addiction a disease, like a viral or bacterial infection, lets society off the hook for the role it plays in the problem. Something about this girl's life led her to reach for instant, guaranteed relief for her inner tensions & that is a learned response, not an innate defect.

  48. @ursamaj The presence or absence of a cure doesn’t define what is or is not a disease.

  49. @Mbrown By limiting the concept of addiction to the disease model, it certainly brings up the idea that there is a cure, that a person can walk away from the problem by taking their suboxone for instance & that nothing in the person's environment contributed to the development of the problem. It is too reductive, lets too many people off the hook & creates a false hope that one day there will be a tweak in the brain, a device, a patch or something that will make the problem go away, without anybody having to change a thing. Essentially, I am advocating for a biopsychosocial approach to addiction, so I do not want to get bogged down in the semantics of disease, when what I really want to say is that the sin model, the willpower model & the disease model of addiction is not adequate to provide an etiology or a description of the problem.

  50. @ursamaj I live with an addict, so I guess you would call me an enabler. Let's continue the cycle, the labels, the demonization, the ripping families apart. I've tried it all. You, on the other hand, I must say, know it all don't you. You've been there, you've done that. You know all about the interplay, the biology, the whole one size fits all way to treat addiction (disease or not, it's sure a problem). I don't know what you're profession is, but I sure hope you're not in the business of helping people. You think from the past and not the present or future. Laura

  51. We think too narrowly about things. Black or white, this or that. What child doesn't deserve more parents rather than less? I am the adoptive parent of two daughters, both now in their twenties. One is blessed to have access to her birth family. I adopted her at 2 days old, and I see myself as her mother, but I can't imagine not also seeing her birth parents as parents. I like being part of the continuum of love that surrounds her. Parenting isn't about being right, it's about love.

  52. @Gigi P I love your answer. It is about not seeing children as belonging to anybody. The more loving people in their lives the better. It takes a village...

  53. @Gigi P Imagining you have a mother who simply couldn’t care for you is far better than being consistently let down by a heroin addict mother. Hopefully she gets and stays clean, but she hasn’t proven that she can and love isn’t the only emotion that can flow from parent to child.

  54. There is a lot of missing information here. Generally, states want to place children with relatives because it is cheaper, even when those are the same people who raised the troubled parent. If the other family members had issues that would not permit them to qualify to foster the child, or if CPS had reason to believe they would just take the child and then give her back to the offending parent except on the days the social worker was due, then they would not be eligible to care for the child. The current laws that curtail the amount of time a person has to get it together and regain custody are a reaction against the bad old days when kids sat in foster care for decades, waiting.

  55. I have all the sympathy in the world for Ms Jarrett. But I also have sympathy for her children and the foster family caring for her son. What dedicated, loving people the foster family must be if willing to take this young boy into their care for the rest of their lives. The authorities MUST prioritise the child's interests over all others. Reading between the lines, I suspect that's what is happening here, and so it should. Ms Jarrett might have sobered up for her daughter, but its seems she wasn't sober for her son's first year. which was one of the most important developmental stages in his whole life.

  56. It’s hard for me to have much sympathy for this woman. Her addiction to heroin (and other misdeeds) is the cause of the removal of the child from her custody. I feel for people trying to get clean, but how did they get there in the first place? And if you really loved your child, wouldn’t you want to do what is best for him? Sometimes these things are difficult, but with a addicted dad in jail and sober (for now) mom, it’s tough to want to put him in her home. I wouldn’t want imagine growing up in that house of horrors. And a lot of details are missing from this story too. It takes a lot more than conceiving a child to be a mother or a father.

  57. I just attended a ceremony where a mother and grandmother were separated from her children, and grandchildren: a funeral. Her choice. The wages of addiction are harsh. Just ask the children (and grandchildren) of addicts. A choice.

  58. @Pitiless If it was a choice it wouldn’t be addiction.

  59. As a mother grandmother and retired NYC teacher I find this story very disconcerting. I pity everyone most of all the poor child and since I don’t know any of them I can’t judge the situation. Being an addict is horrific and how long is long enough to prove being truly clean? Saving the child is the most important but it’s a total tragedy and I fear for him no matter the outcome.

  60. Its is hard for me to understand the behavior of the state agents (social workers) in this matter. If had the ability to investigate I would look for a money trail and/or a group of self-righteous religious people driving the baby transfer process.

  61. @old soldier Yup, this is a billion dollar industry. There are people who earn their living by fostering and adoption.

  62. @old soldier We’re only hearing one side of the story here. We have no idea how well this mother has actually followed the plan outlined by the state. We have no idea if those family members who are willing to take the child are appropriate placements. (Do they have a history of drug abuse themselves, have they had a case with CPS, do they have felony convictions, do they have an appropriately clean and safe home?) If the state didn’t wan to place them with relatives, there is probably a good reason.

  63. Yes! I always suspected that people went into thankless social service jobs for the money.

  64. This article is so one sided and partial. There is obviously more to the story that should have been presented in order to portrait an accurate picture of the situation. Interestingly enough, even though this article was obviously written to garner sympathy for the addict, there are so many "red flags" that indicate the state did the right thing by the child. I wished this kind of articles would also include the point of view of adult children of addicts who lived through a similar situation so we can truly understand how devastating addiction really is for the children of addicts.

  65. @Rosie - As the adult child of an addict, I’ll weigh in: It’s a terrible way to grow up.

  66. Very sad story. Unfortunately when the state has to intervene because the parents messed up in one way or another the parents get and should expect rough justice. Who the heck really knows what’s best for the child at this point? Child took its first hit of heroine in the womb and not by choice. That one ain’t on the state. Mom is now sober, and that’s to be commended, but what is the likelihood of relapse? Statistically it’s quite likely, and what then? The state has to retake the child again until mom gets her act together as determined by the state? Life is hard, and in no way am I unsympathetic to someone who self medicates to deal with hard times, but the path leading to an addiction is undoubtedly a choice. One does not, at the risk of stating the obvious, become a heroine addict overnight. Rather, a series of decisions are typically made over a period of years that brings someone to that point. I would also point out that the article seems to praise the addict mom and condemn the state and its decision makers who are simply trying, however imperfectly, to make the right decision for the child. This is not a position anyone wanted to be in, and the mom clearly caused this situation. I actually draw the exact opposite opinion about the state and its decision makers from what seems to be the view of the author. What a benevolent society we live in that the state actually has a process for letting a woman who’s messed up to this degree regain her parental rights.

  67. I am an attorney who has litigated such cases in Pennsylvania. The story about Lindsey is not unusual, but it is all about Lindsey. The standard applied under such circumstances is the best interest of the child, not the addicted mother. Lindsey might struggle with drug addiction with multiple recoveries and relapses for the next ten years - is Brayden to be 'parked' in foster care (quite possibly in multiple homes and with families) for the sake of Lindsey and her personal demons? Child Protective Services (in Pennsylvania, called CYS) can be arbitrary and capricious and individual caseworkers grow angry and retaliatory; but there was nothing about this story that suggested that was the case here. "Her little boy was slipping away" - heartringing words, but the child is not a toy to be tussled over, a prize for staying clean for six months. CPS' adoption process has to be reasonably efficient and get to a conclusion in real-time; other people (the child himself, the adoptive parents) have their emotions and lives engaged also. And its 'Child' Protective Services, for a reason.

  68. @Tom Wolpert I am an attorney from California. Still, in this case, it is not clear whether CPS had obstructed placement with a relative. I have seen numerous cases where CPS would lie and fabricate evidence to prevent relatives to apply for placement. Again, it's SAFA and the $5,000 to $8,000 federal incentive money that is really in the real interest of CPS and state legislature in the case of young and easily adoptable children. Just like puppies and kitten.

  69. @QTP yes, but the writer dodges the issue as to the fitness of other, close family members. Why did the family not step in and taken over the care of this child before he was taken away? Where were they? This family was on the state's radar. Apparently, Brayden's well being wasnt a serious concern for the child's grandmother or others. Love is only one piece of parenting.

  70. @Suzanne yes, my question too. Why did the court deem family/friends unfit? The story is slanted through ommission of important information.

  71. My daughter was a Child Protective Service social worker for years in Virginia and dealt with many cases like this. Nearly all the time the child taken from a mother like this would go to the care of an immediate family member unless there were compelling reasons why these other family members could not be trusted. So there probably is another side to this story.

  72. @john I agree. I can't understand why kinship placement wasn't offered here, except to guess that there's more to the story than was presented. If not, then it's wrong. If biological parents can't parent (and that's not clear here), then kinship placement really should be considered.

  73. @john The data suggest otherwise. Here in Virginia we have one of the worst records in the nation for using kinship care. Nationwide about a third of placements are with relatives; in Virginia it’s about six percent. (Have a look: http://bit.ly/2SOpYH6) -- even though study after study says such placements are better for children than what should properly be called “stranger care.” So it’s more likely that the child protective services system bias against families extends to extended families. Richard Wexler National Coalition for Child Protection Reform Alexandria VA www.nccpr.org

  74. I meet a lot of these families. My colleagues and I are often frustrated by the number of opportunities that bio families get in these situations before the state acts in a way that best benefits the child. Foster families who would like to adopt are kept in limbo for years sometimes. On the occasions when I meet bio parents, they often speak with good intentions about their desire to care for the child. Unfortunately, most of them do not follow through with their actions. I feel sorry for them, because I feel that they have an emotional bond with their child, but their other issues, whether it is addiction or something else, are too overpowering for them. My primary focus, though, is on the child. Meeting children who are delayed meeting developmental milestones due to being contained in a car seat all day long, who always seem hungry due to months of poor nutrition, or who have unusual behavioral issues likely due to neglect or abuse, has reduced my concern for a bio parent being re-unified with these children. I want to see them in a safe and nurturing environment and if foster / adoption is the answer, so be it.

  75. For every story like this, there is a story where every effort was made to keep the child with its biological parents, and the child ends up dead.

  76. @J. Waddell For every story where reunification was prevented there is a story where reunification ended in death of the child? Wow. Could you please cite your source? This is a tragic enough situation without the fake news.

  77. @J. Waddell Please cite your source.

  78. It is borderline child abuse to let children live with addicted parents, or parents stuck in a cycle of addiction and recovery. The woman has only been sober for a short period of time, she clearly still has relations with her partner who is a user (increasing her chances of relapse) and she already let her first son down so many times. Parenting isn't a thing where you get a million chances. Children need parents who are stable enough to care for them, not parents going through recovery. My former boyfriend is a recovered addict. His mother is a current addict who constantly went through recovery cycles. If addicts can recover that's great for them, but they are rendered permanently unreliable and totally unfit as parents. You can never trust an addict. How do these reporters know she tried to get sober while pregnant? Because if that's just what she said, I don't buy it for a second. When you're an addict, nothing, not even your children, can compete with the next high. You can't risk a child's life and the stability he needs to grow and thrive just because his mother wishes she could have a do-over.

  79. As others have commented here, the story feels one-sided. As a mother myself I can imagine this mother’s heartbreak. I also can imagine that Braydon’s life will be forever marked by the loss of his birth mother. But the slant of the story seems to ignore statistical reality: that heroin addiction is a beast, and relapse is, unfortunately, likely. One of my partner’s nieces was adopted in similar circumstances and there is no doubt that she is better off now than if she had remained with her birth mother. There are consequences to some actions and in this case the courts are making a decision to act in the best interest of the child, not the mother. If the courts did not award custody of the child to any of her family or friends, it would have been more balanced for the reporter to explore why this decision was made. The slant of the story extends to the photographs. As a graphic designer who searches for and manipulates images every day, I note the creative cropping in the last photo of this mother with her new baby. It looks like she is smoking a cigarette, a plume of second hand smoke just barely visible. It does take away from the presentation of this woman as a wholly fit mother. I sincerely hope this mother can remain drug free for the rest of her life. However there is a reasonable chance that this second child will also end up in foster care. Motherhood is stressful in the easiest of circumstances. And this woman is not raising her new baby in easy circumstances.

  80. Termination of parental rights is typically not completed without a lot of steps happening in the process. Typically, the parent is supposed to complete certain steps over a course of months/years. If he/she doesn't, then they stand to lose their parental rights. Children wait in limbo for years while their parents try to get their lives together. Typically the extended family is evaluated for placement. Why in this case were they not, or were they found to be unacceptable? It's a shame from any angle. And it's a shame that this story doesn't go into detail about the complexity of these cases.

  81. There is no perfect solution to this situation. Not ideal for the child to be removed, not ideal for the child to stay. So what to do? The scale must weigh on the side of what will hopefully be the most stable and caring environment for the child- knowing there are no guarantees. I also do not believe biological parents are due or owed their children by virtue of biology or love. The ability to provide for and nurture a child has to be present. This story does not address her ability to provide a nurturing environment, as wonderful as it is that she is currently sober. I was adopted at birth, and while this may or may not have its own issues (for me, not too much), I’m grateful I was not raised by my biological mother (the father was never identified). I know she cared about me; 50 years after the adoption she contacted me through the agency that handled our case (this was at a time when adoption records were sealed). I was glad to have contact with her. Even so, I know her environment at the time of my birth and for years after was exceedingly chaotic. No matter how great her love for me, my life would have been challenging, to say the least, had I grown up with her. My parents (the people who raised me) gave me a loving, reliable and stable home to grow up in, which is everything. I’m grateful to my biological mother for my life and for contacting me. I’m also grateful she made what was an agonizing, but also loving, decision- to let others adopt and raise me.

  82. This too much like email " glurges " that used to spread sob stories designed to evoke emotions absent thought or a complete set of facts. Maybe Child Protective service workers in Virginia are incompetent, cruel or failed in their responsibilities, and refused to follow federal guidelines that mandate evaluating family members as a resource, via custody or as Kinship foster parents. It happens. CPS apparently DID adhere to regulations when they repeatedly advised her that time was running out to either return Brayden to her care or to terminate parental rights, and place him for adoption. Usually parental visits do stop after rights are terminated, a long and difficult process, with court oversight. It sounds as if these visits continued, after her recovery. It sometimes takes addicts years to get control of their addictions, if ever: the general idea of time limits is that children cannot wait so long for a stable, permanent home. They were set in effort to prevent the "permanent" foster care or the foster care bounce: Home, relatives, foster care, repeat. Even good ideas can backfire when rigidly applied. In NYS ANY relative can walk into Family Court to apply for custody, no attorney needed. The Court then orders a study of the home to be certain that the child would be safe there, and makes a custody determination. Not CPS. Imagine an alternate story: Brayden depending on parents high on heroin. I hope that with supports, Ms Jarratt does well with Hailey Mary.

  83. Many years ago I married a drug addict who fooled me (they are some of the world's most convincing actors) that she was done with that way of life. Shortly after our marriage, she was caught (a second time) forging a prescription (a felony in Ohio). Prior to our marriage, she regained parental rights from Children's Services to her six month old daughter Maria. My ex was given a three to five year sentence and my divorce was automatically granted and my ex surrendered her parental rights to her daughter who was immediately adopted. That loss of Maria hurt me at the time because I had grown close to her feeding her and changing her diapers while her mother preferred to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee all day rather than care for her daughter. But as I look back after all these years, I now know that it was the best thing to happen for Maria. I was in no shape to raise a daughter. Too young with too many years left for me to go on with my life. Eventually I put all that behind me. I will always remember the short time I was given the opportunity to be a father to Maria but I now know giving her up was the best option for both of us. But to reach that conclusion, I needed the years to learn that my emotional attachment to Maria was selfish on my part. And really caring for her was to give her to someone else who would be better suited to be both a mother and father for her.

  84. There is really nothing more demanding and nothing more important than adequately parenting a child. Children are completely vulnerable to our mistakes as parents. They deserve and need attentive care from parents who are not on dope, not in jail, not running around on each other, not consumed with mental health issues. Being a mother of young children is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I can’t imagine trying to do it impaired. I say this as a career woman, with a home that tries not to be too “child-centered”. There is just a basic level of love, support and security that a child needs and deserves. Someone exposing a developing fetus to illegal drugs is really not ready to care for an infant. The NYT has had several articles recently with the slant that the mothers’ right to get high somehow supersedes not hurting the child. It’s some odd reporting.

  85. As a parent who both adopted from foster care and had biological children, this story is insanely irresponsible. I highly suggest the author spend some time looking into the attachment disorders and the abuse that children of drug addicts who aren't removed from their parents custody are subject to. She had a deadline and failed to meet it, the well being of the child is much more important than how she feels about her extensive failures.

  86. Ms. Jarratt has another chance with her daughter. I wish them both well. I wish her boyfriend and the children's father well also, but he seems more fragile. Perhaps Brayden will look up his sober and healthy biologic mother when he is mature.

  87. it is the welfare of the child that is paramount.I do feel empathy for ms jarrett but she has relapsed more than once, the child deserves stability.

  88. Bad choices made all the way around.. My heart goes out to the Mom- If she is in fact "clean" more power to her- how about while she waits for her son she enrolls in a Junior College and starts educating herself? A Tattoo is about $75 bucks - one JC class and text book is about $150 .. I'm sure she could get tuition assistance from the State assistance.. Better yet look what I just found... "A tuition-free college education could soon become a reality for some residents in Virginia. The University of Virginia's new president, Jim Ryan, announced during his inaugural ceremony that some in-state students will be able to attend the school tuition-free.Oct 19, 2018" The tools and help is there ... Stop being a victim and do something to become the responsible mother you want to be!

  89. The article alone tells you this addicted mother is nowhere near "the path to recovery". This is still all about her and not her victims, her children. She is the victim. She is the one being wronged. She is the one "suffering". Having the boy back so she can stop "her suffering" even if that means taking away the best chance for a good life that boy will ever have. Even the way she choose to "honor" the child: a tattoo? Seriously? Guess a picture would not be enough to keep the attention on her.

  90. I work with families in crisis like this. CPS gets such an undeserved bad rap. If this baby had been left with these parents, imagine the neglect he would have faced. And we don’t know CPS’ side of the story here because they have to protect everyone’s privacy and can’t speak to reporters. CPS saves lives— and when it’s in a child’s best interests, they work hard to keep families intact. With the opioid epidemic in this country wrecking lives, I would hope that we would appreciate the hard work of child protection officers even more. This article does a disservice to them. Of course I feel sorry for the mother. I’ve seen this kind of desperation up close. But I can picture the article that would be (and has been) written if the state hadn’t rescued the baby in time. We don’t know the full story, and it’s tragic either way. But lay off of CPS— they deserve our gratitude.

  91. @B.Agree with your comment. I spent 4 years on a Foster Care Review Board. The author of this article and most of the comments show a very naive understanding of what CPS has to deal with.

  92. @B. CPS did not place the child with any of the extended family who were willing to care for him. That is totally irresponsible and cruel. Nowhere in the article is there a mention of CPS' rationale. Given the description of what they've done here, I don't think your defense of this agency is warranted.

  93. @B. Well said!! It's irresponsible of the reporter to offer such one-sided reporting - and I suspect the parents of this child have plenty of documentation they could have shared with her that would have offered us all a more complete picture of the agency and the court's reasoning in taking the actions that they did.

  94. Clean for several months isn't good enough. If you can't get your act together after you give birth--indeed, when you get pregnant--and continue using after your child is born, then the child should be adopted out. According to the story, a social worker reminded Ms. Jarratt, several times, that the clock was ticking, that she needed to get clean or she'd lose her child. She's had her chance. Brayden deserves his. And being with a mother who, by all appearances, put sobriety off until the last minute isn't in the best interest of the child. Ask kids who grew up in households headed by addicts. Here's hoping that Ms. Jarratt stretches these several months of sobriety into a lifetime of being straight. But a kid's life is too important to take the gamble that she'll make good on her third, fourth or whatever it is chance at cleaning up.

  95. As the adult child of a parent who was addicted to opiates, I support the state intervening and wish someone had intervened on my and my brother's behalf.

  96. @Kate I wish you would tell us more, Kate. I think people should know how your parents failed you. Maybe they would then understand these situations more fully. I am sorry we could not protect you. I have had to say this to too many children. Our hands are tied. The system does not protect children. Parents have all the rights.

  97. This is the kind of story all those chastising everybody else for "not giving the mother a chance" need to hear. It is easy to be "sympathetic" and "understanding" when you are not the one who is living with the consequences of that nightmare that what life with an addict is.

  98. @Kate The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that relapse rate of drug addicts is in the range of 40-60%. NIDA also says "treatment for drug addiction usually isn't a cure, but addiction can be managed successfully" enabling people "to counteract addiction's disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives." Ms. Jarratt has been clean for only a few months, and there are further risks associated with rejoining her son's addict father, so it seems prudent to wait longer to ensure they both can remain clean. Of course Ms. Jarratt wants her son Brayden returned to her. However, Child Protective Services has a legal mandate to represent society's interests and those of the fostered son, but cannot for reasons of confidentiality present its side of the case for keeping Brayden in a foster home. Given the regulations CPS must follow, it seems unlikely that it is arbitrarily keeping Brayden separated from his mother. It is odd that the article tries to develop sympathy for the mother, yet says little about the father who I presume is not married to the mother--yet they have had a second child. Is there something about the father that CPS knows that the author of this article does not? Is the father as anxious as the mother to have Brayden back? Why doesn't he marry Ms. Jarratt? Is the father too unsympathetic to fit the story the author is trying to tell? So many important and unanswered questions lead to an unsatisfactory article.

  99. It's a real shame that the NYT commentators have seemingly endless sympathy for immigrant children seperations but almost no sympathy for American parents who hit hard times and then do the work to get better. The children being brought across the border are subject to molestation, violence and unending chaos. If an American mother took her young child on a similar trip to cross into Canada she would be arrested for child abuse and neglect. Many act like these immigrant mothers are mother of the year for subjecting young children to such a dangerous journey. And no, they don't have to make this journey. There are many safe places between Central America and the US. The mother in this article is trying her best to undue past mistakes. Her family should be together, not separated by the government. Many, many parents make serious mistakes. IMO, if the parent works to get their life back on track and provide a stable home for their children, they should get their children back.

  100. @Laura The NYT commenters who "have seemingly endless sympathy for immigrant children seperations" (SIC) are likely the ones to be open minded about a mother recovering from addiction. "almost no sympathy for American parents who hit hard times and then do the work to get better" comments are most likely from those are anti-immigration pro wall, Republican voters.

  101. Why do we place children with their grandparents when the parents have messed up? It seems like an opportunity for the grandparents to mess up yet another generation; we need more adoptions & foster homes. Those on drugs rarely, if ever, get better.

  102. The best thing for this child is to be adopted by loving parents who are not drug addicts or former convicts. All the best to that baby.

  103. Lindsey if you're reading these comments please pay no mind to the pontificators. Funny how everyone has an opinion about what best for your child isn't it? You must feel like the whole world is against you sometimes but I respect you for your perseverance in making the necessary life changes to get Brayden back and the courage to share your story. There are people who care about your struggle. Keep up the good work and good things will happen for you. Stay strong. Your boy is worth it and so are you.

  104. What would you say to Brayden whise mother was doing heroine while pregnant and continued to do so after he was born and countless other Braydens, small and grown, who are out there living with/have lived with an heroin addicted parent and suffering the consequences?

  105. I believe this woman's story. I stepped in when my niece was taken away. I am a professional woman and mom, with no criminal record and a job at a very reputable company. Despite all of this, they did not contact me prior to her removal and did not answer calls for days. This isn't legal; they are supposed to look for relatives first. They make mistakes. Not looking at her family seriously is criminal. The system also relies heavily on one person's opinion: the social worker's. It is inherently without many checks and balances, as judges are overwhelmed and major decisions, such as relocating a child, are made without judges. In additoon, in our foster parent classes we saw practically nobody else but black grandmothers. In a city that is sub 7% black. It's clearly an inherently racist system.

  106. I have worked with many families in crisis like this. What frustrates me about this story is the implication that CPS is somehow at fault. The reason we don’t hear CPS’ side of the story is that they are bound by law to protect the privacy of everyone in this case. So pls remember that this reporter only presents one side of the story. CPS saves lives. Period. They try to keep families intact whenever possible— both as a moral imperative AND as a more efficient way to do business— they’re work is astronomically harder once a child is removed from a home! This story is a tragedy any way you look at it, but I shudder to think of the story that would have been written (and has been written, too many times) in which CPS is held responsible for seriously neglected (or dead) children who were NOT removed in a timely way. Addicts and drugs destroy lives. Not CPS! They deserve our gratitude for a VERY difficult job.

  107. Virginia has had a history or corruption. Seems to be continuing.

  108. @Hank Dude our whole country has a history of corruption. Oh wait, it is STILL engaged in corruption. Look no further than this joke of an administration.

  109. So now we have to ignore the qualified social workers in family protection services (my wife is one of them, has a pile of book a few feet high on the subject and a decade of experience) and instead believe liberal media who now mischaracterize this as "family separation" thus demonizing the social worker and blowing that Trump dog whistle? Is Trial By Media the future of humanity ?

  110. I am stunned by the leadoff to this story, that the mean, punitive social workers ripped the child away to "live with strangers." I would be very interested to hear the facts of the case history here. Contrary to this enduring and slanderous myth of child protective and child welfare workers breaking apart families at first chance-- or leaving them at home until they are further abused or killed -- the goal is family reunification and a balance must be struck between this and safety for the child. It aint easy. And relatives are almost always the first resource turned to when the safety issues require removal from the birth home. My guess is that there weren't any relatives who stepped forward or were determined safe for the child. Walk in the shoes of a social worker dealing with child protection and foster care/adoption. You will find it's a lot easier to write about it. I did this job that American society so poorly recognizes for 12 years, in the height and aftermath of the crack epidemic. I could not do this job today, with the explosion from opiates and its impact on American families. Since this literary resort to demonizing the courageous, caring professionals who try to bandage American society's gross dysfunction remains so easy to journalists, at the very least try to find a success story to celebrate, Ms. Interlandi. A caseworker could share one or more with you Shame on the NYT that this comes from within the editorial board.

  111. If she was serious about family she would be getting an education and a job, not having more babies when she can barely take care of herself.

  112. Ms. Interlandi makes very substantial accusations of professional misconduct, civil rights violations and law breaking against the county child welfare agency involved in this case. As just one example, she writes that family members were not considered as caregivers and foster care was imposed instead. Is that true or did she make that up? If true, such action would create both criminal and civil liability for the county agency. I urge the NYT to take a close look and follow up on this story. Something is very wrong here - is it the agency or the writer?

  113. @Mary Ann As a former journalist, I can tell you that the story fails on standard journalistic practices -- but then it is an opinion piece. But the Times should have demanded more -- but politically no one dared.

  114. Before writing this excellent opinion column, Ms. Interlandi co-authored a brilliant series of editorials, which I discuss, and link to in this column for the trade journal Youth Today: http://bit.ly/2VYktYm One of those editorials focused on how media-fueled hype and hysteria over so-called “crack babies” bred a hatred of their mothers that only hurting the children by consigning many of them, needlessly to the chaos of foster care. Another part focused on how, years after the science proved the hype wrong, the mythology still poisons our approach to cases involving parental drug abuse. The well-meaning comments on this column prove her point. Yes, by all means let’s put the best interests of the child first. But that means we have to recognize the study after study showing that, in typical cases, children do better in their own homes even than comparably-maltreated children placed in foster care - and when children really must be placed kinship care is the best option. That was another lesson from the crack era. Researchers found that even children born with cocaine in their systems did better left with birth mothers able to care for them than in foster care. The editorials quote Barry Lester, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Brown University who specializes in opioid addiction. He said: "We love to hate these women. But our hatred is not accomplishing anything.” Richard Wexler National Coalition for Child Protection Reform www.nccpr.org

  115. The needs and best interests of the young boy trump the desire for this mother to regain her parental rights. It sounds as though the fostering family is providing a stable and loving home for the young boy. The foster family is instilling in the young boy that is is safe, secure, and loved. The foster mother calls herself “Mom.” Why disrupt this child again? Why disrupt this child in returning to a known dysfunction home environment with the biological mother? A biological mother who still remains in a relationship, by her conscious choice, with the father who remains addicted to heroine, with a police and jail record? What is the biological mother’s plan for providing for her son? How does she plan to maintain gainful employment and financial solvency? Does she have job skills? What we do know is that the biological mother is able to get pregnant and give birth. Not once. But twice. When all around her, her personal life was in a turbulent tailspin. The biological mother continues to need the support of outside agencies and addiction specialists to keep her sober. She is barely treading water. To return the young boy to the biological mother, and returned to the extended family from which the biological mother turned to heroine as a maladaptive coping mechanism, is to place the well-being and potential of this young boy at risk. The young boy deserves better and should be allowed to be adopted by the foster family.

  116. You should really research addiction. You don’t just keep a child away from a mother because she had addictions. Treatment is life long. I’m a child of substance abusers, and I know the outcomes. But I’m not so narrow minded to think having once had an issue means you always abuse. Separating children from parents is a last resort, not a first.

  117. @Karen J. So, who are you to pass judgment on parental fitness on the bases of having a job, financial solvency and birth control? And you made lots of assumptions on the fitness of the relatives? Have you ever heard "blood is thicker than water"?

  118. @Karen J.: I was somewhat sympathetic up until the point that Ms. Jarratt got pregnant AGAIN, before getting 100% clean or even 1 year of sobriety and her boyfriend being still addicted. OK, I get that she was trying to replace her lost baby, but still. It shows tragically poor judgment, and now another baby is "at risk" and my guess is she will go back on drugs and lose this baby too. Also, it is poor journalism to not find out why the ENTIRE Jarratt family was rejected for foster care. It must be pretty bad, because that is more typical than for a child to be fostered out to strangers.

  119. Blacks are about four times more likely than whites to lose custody in these circumstances. That makes this an atypical case which probably doesn’t tell us how things usually work and does not address the substantial racial prejudice in the system.

  120. Some people should not be allowed to have children.

  121. When you abuse drugs and decide to have children, injured hearts for parent and child and foster parent (and a huge bill for taxpayers) are the only outcome, even if it’s possible to reunite bio parents and child. However, I have been involved with the foster care system (we adopted a child, age 12 at placement with us, three years ago) enough that I recognize the reporting in this story as shockingly weak. Kinship is best practice. If zero members of the family are eligible, that sets off huge alarm bells for me, and should have been followed up on before this story was run. The reporter seems to have lost objectivity (or filed the story too soon). The state cannot give its side of the story due to confidentiality which is in the best interest of the child. So do your reporting and find out why and also perhaps consider next time not naming the children. If parental rights have been terminated then bio mom does not have the permission to give and Google is forever. This article is not up to the standards I’d expect from the NYT. It should be followed up on with a bit of a harder eye toward the details and greater privacy for the two children mentioned.

  122. It is hard to find justice without some kind of punishment.

  123. There are consequences of being a junkie. You just don’t return to life expecting all you had before. The state needs to let the children from junkie parents as heroin is a tough addiction and one that she’ll probably fail to beat based on statistics.

  124. The last thing this couple needs is another baby. how irrresponsible.

  125. Lindsey, I’ll speak to you as an older, experienced Auntie. Please get yourself some long-acting Birth Control, such as an IUD or Implants. You will never, ever be able to improve your life if you continue having more children. It’s only going to get more difficult, and increase the chances of losing the child you have. Good luck.

  126. Ms. Dalmatian, I would like to add that the pressures that this young woman with two kids, an ever-sinking standard of living, facing an iffy employment future, at best, will face. Will she be strong enough to handle the challenges? Certainly possible, but the odds are not in her favor.

  127. @Phyliss Dalmatian very good advice!!

  128. A 2nd child? really? Why does the state have to pay for all this? One child seems plenty enough given this debacle. And I have a drug addict sister with a toddler so I am living this in real time. I would be furious if she got pregnant again. Shameful and bad parenting--sorry. Drug addiction is an illness as is metastatic cancer. If a woman had end stage breast cancer, no one would support them being pregnant.

  129. The article neglects to state whether Ms. Jarratt has a job (althugh she trained for one). Mr. Jarratt is back in jail . They had a second child. Ms. Interlandi, a member of the editorial board obviously sympathizes with Ms. Jarratt. It would have been nice to get more of a response of those involved in the foster care process. Parenting requires responsibility above all, even before love. A junkie can love a child but lack responsibility to care for one.

  130. With direct experience raising two children whose parents rights were terminated due to their addictions this scenario will have no winners though it may take 15-25 years for the losses to become self evident.

  131. I hope Lindsey keeps it together but she has no business having children. No child deserves to grow up with this.

  132. The child should be with her mother. She's straightened out and all of the doctors and therapists are vouching for her. The family trying to adopt the child should just stop it. This woman obviously loves her son and has the proper support now to be a good mother. Giver her the chance. Give her child that chance.

  133. No. Why does she get "another chance" when she did not give her unborn son even one chance as she had no problem getting high while pregnant? That is unforgivable and should be automatic termination of parental rights. And in spite of all the support, she is still making bad decisions and bad choices, like getting pregnant again! very likely while high even though she had already lost custody of one child, by her addicted lover. The boy and the baby girl deserve the chance for a normal life better than she deserves a second, third, fourth, fifth "chance". Hopefully a new baby will not be involved with every new "chance" she gets.

  134. @kay because the reporter included no other information but that provided by the parent, we really have no idea what the full picture is. It's entirely possible there's more to the story.

  135. Kay, a “chance?” You don’t gamble with a child’s life.

  136. Wow, the hyperbole in this article is extreme. Really, NY Times? You only spoke to Lindsey, you have no way of knowing WHY children's services does not want Brayden placed with any of her family members. There may be a good reason. The fact that she got pregnant not once but TWICE with children she does not have the resources to care for while in the throes of addiction speaks volumes about her fitness as a parent. That and the fact that her children's father is in jail. The children are what matters. If she can get her act together and get him back, that's best. But even this sympathetic article said she drifted on in addiction while her kid was in foster care. Time doesn't stand still for anyone, and Lindsey clearly has been unable to prioritize her son's best interests. She expresses no gratitude to the people who have cared for her son when she couldn't. Who have loved him and looked after him. Addicts are often selfish and do not see things clearly. A few months of sobriety doesn't fix the bad thinking of years of addiction. It is not her fault she is an addict, but she is the only one who can choose to get better. Maybe instead of blaming people who have done their best to help her son, she could think of him and think of her daughter, and go to a meeting. And maybe the NY Times could write less inflammatory, click-baiting articles.

  137. That is what makes addiction so damaging and toxic for people surrounding the addict, especially children: addicts are self-centered and nothing and nobody are more important than getting their fix.

  138. There are many things that DSS has done wrong in this case. They are legally required to consider placement with family members before a foster family. Also the ticking clock ticks for everyone, the hearings cannot be postponed under the Best Court Practices issued by the VA Supreme Court. I am a retired attorney who worked on several foster care cases in VA. This mother’s termination may well be reversed on appeal, which should be considered a win for everyone. Unfortunately some social workers get a power trip and play games to keep the child in foster care. Sometimes they encourage placement with their own relatives to get them an adoption subsidy. It is truly evil but I have seen it. I wish this mother the best.

  139. I think this article would be more objective if the author had interviewed some of the people on the other side - those who rescued this baby from a drug addict and her family. That's in the Journalism 101 textbook. I find it hard to believe the NYTimes would publish this rambling emotional piece. A baby's life is at stake here. Things that resonate with me about Lindsey Jarratt that are glossed over by this writer: 1. She was able to stay sober while pregnant but went right back to drug use after she had her baby. 2. She had a second child with a junkie who is now in jail. 3. She hid her addiction from everyone. I don't blame the system for not trusting her. Addicts will lie to get whatever they want - and, in my opinion, Lindsey Jarratt lied to get this writer to leave her objectivity at the door. My fear is foremost for this woman's children. For that reason, I would have like to hear the other side of this story.

  140. Ms Interlandi, the title of the article should be “Another Successful intervention by CPS”

  141. We adopted a baby out of foster care who was placed there because she was born addicted to heroin and cocaine. We’re in touch regularly with her birth mother who feels guilty for her habits but clearly still loves this adorable girl. Birth mom still uses and is grateful we have her/our girl. So are we. I cannot imagine raising this energetic girl while battling an addiction. It would be ugly. This article feels irresponsible to me. No case is black and white. I love the NYTimes, but please trust your readers enough to expose them to the harsh ambiguities in foster cases. Treating the mom as an innocent victim of her own addiction seems naive. A foster family is loving this boy and wants him forever. At least honor that.

  142. @Alison I agree. I, too, am a foster parent, and this article feels extremely one sided to me. Is the assumption that it would have been better for the child to have been left in the care of a mother battling addiction with a partner who was relapsing? Foster parents who take care of infants exposed to drugs in utero and born to parents struggling with addiction give the parents a chance to recover. An enormous gift and opportunity. It is hard enough to take care of an infant when you are well and stable -- imagine trying to do so when fighting addiction. This article makes it sound like CPS just took the child for no reason. It ignores the stability the foster parents provided the child. Parental rights are often terminated as a last resort. I don't understand why other perspectives were not considered in this reporting. In these situations there is often not an option that is 100 percent good for everyone. There is loss and confusion and grey area and heartache.

  143. @Alison The birth mother in this case is under continuing care and has had her addiction under control for months. Why she and her baby should not be reunited is beyond my comprehension. Would you feel the same way if she had a chronic heart condition that prevented her from running after a two-year-old? I don't think so. The child deserves to be with his birth mother. That the foster mother is already trying to usurp the birth mother's role by calling herself "Mommy" suggests to me that this foster family should be ineligible to care for the child during this interim period. Indeed, the original foster family was willing to care for the boy. This new family wants to adopt him. There is something unpleasant about the Virginia foster care system here that you have missed.

  144. @EMiller, addiction is a medical condition, but it’s not like a chronic heart condition. It is more like un-medicated schizophrenia. We can support the addict while recognizing that the addiction made her do things that put her child in direct danger. A heart condition doesn’t do that.

  145. Outcomes are heavily influenced by the dedication of the court system to affording parents all the rights due them. Where I live, there is a panel with a limited number attorneys who receive training in these cases who take appointments where the local legal aid office— which under difficult circumstances does an outstanding job— and who over a few of years have developed expertise and savvy in dealing with all of the moving parts of the system. We have managed to significantly reduce the number of terminations of parental rights. Parents with addiction, however, have to be mindful that while they struggle (or not) with addiction their children are growing and learning and socializing, and they too have a right to stability and parents who demonstrate they care for them. I am often pleasantly surprised at how often parents with mind-boggling addiction or mental health problems overcome them within a year or two so they can give their children a meaningful home.

  146. I walked away from this article not with an strong opinion about which outcome is "right", but just sadness that decisions like these have to be made again and again. It's easy to vilify CPS or the judges, but they have a small child's life in their hands, and no crystal ball can tell them how any situation will turn out. I've seen addicted parents try to raise kids, and it's heart breaking. They may love their children, but the power of addiction all too often renders them neglectful, and exposes the kids to a seedy life, with lack of stability. It's great that the mom is sober now, but how many times has CPS and judges seen sober parents relapse? I can understand the temptation to seek a more stable and safe environment for the kid. On the other hand, foster care can be a bad situation itself, and the pain of being torn from a parent is great. These things should only be used when absolutely necessary. Mostly, it's terrible that we need to make these decisions every day in America. I wish our elected leaders would do more about drug abuse.

  147. I would hope that your conclusion, Itsy, is what all reading this piece should come to.

  148. Reading this article and the diversity of these comments leaves me with one abundantly clear conclusion: there are no easy answers here. It is tragic to take a child away from his birth parents who love him and are struggling with all their might to overcome their shortcomings and provide a good and decent life for the child they love. But is it more or less tragic to allow that child to return to that home, where the mother's risk of relapse is much higher perhaps than the risk of the foster parents falling into addiction? I've found that, due to the enormous stigma attached to addiction, it's often helpful to consider a comparable case with some other disease. For example, if a parent were diabetic, and had experienced several severe episodes of diabetic emergencies over a year or two, would we be as eager to tear the child from a loving mother's arms? If not, then are we more concerned with the child's safety, or with punishing the mother for her addiction? I would dearly hope that, no matter the outcome, Brayden's birth parents and his foster parents would focus all of their attention on one thing: the best possible outcome for Brayden. And most important, that they all respect the final decision, and spend the rest of their lives supporting Brayden in every way possible. I would also hope that everyone who reads this will understand the desperate need in this nation for a better health care system that can help us better deal with situations like this.

  149. I would agree with except for your presumption that life with the disease of diabetes is inherently more dangerous for a child in the house than addiction of the parent to heroin. In the balancing act, the child's safety and welfare should prevail.

  150. I don't see how anyone can make a judgment based on this article. My take is its a sad story for young people and there should not be a definitive decision made for a couple of years; time to see if the mother can live properly and 'clean' ; not just 6 months and then decide.

  151. @Jean louis LONNE So the child should be raised by another family for those years, establishing relationships and bonds with those families? And then, several years down the road, the child should be torn from the family that has raised him also his entire life and sent back to live with someone who is essentially a stranger? It's horrible to keep a kid in limbo. They need stability and long-term relationships. This is the challenge with addiction. You don't know whether someone is long-term clean until they have been so for several years. But, in the meantime, the kids are growing up.

  152. The needs of the child are much more important than the needs of the parent. I believe in forgiveness, but not at the risk of the child. My wife and I have an adopted 4 year old. He came to us through foster care. He was 4 months old when he was placed with us and had twelve broken bones, all healing at a different time. I believe my boy's biological parents can be forgiven, but not at the expense of him going back into that household.

  153. Every month, there are children who are murdered not only by their fathers, or stepfathers, but by their mothers as well, who have previously had multiple visits by social services. This happens in California, Minnesota, New York, and every state in the country. With young children, you shouldn't get a second chance to have them in your custody, see them with supervision, yes, if there is a period of a year or more that one's destruction behavior to oneself or the child, is taken care of, and if the child wants to even see the adult in their life. We have this myth, that we can easily fix people with the right services, enough money, programs, etc., and that is one of the most untrue statements that has ever been made. If one reaches the age of junior high with lots of anger, criminal charges, drug abuse, outbursts, running away from home, etc. the tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of dollars,expended on these individuals, the courts, etc. are often for naught, it is sad to say. Parenting is a job, not an idea of just giving birth, which shouldn't really give any female, or male automatic rights. Children are not only vulnerable, but impressionable, as well, and they imitate bad behavior, as that is all they know.

  154. From the article, it sounds like CPS was correct in removing the child from his situation. However, the article feels incomplete, and there are some unanswered questions that judges should be trained to ask and examine. 1) If relatives were available, why didn't CPS place the child with relatives? 2) Why are foster parents permitted to have children refer to them by the name mom or dad? 3) If Ms. Jarratt didn't have all of her visitation she was entitled to and was able and willing to exercise it, why didn't CPS provide it? (And this lack of contact should then not be held against the parent.) 4) If it's true that CPS doesn't return phone calls in a timely manner, why not? Like it or not, the prevailing standard for raising children is not the best interests of a child. If that's the case, many people wouldn't be parents.

  155. White or "white enough" babies have always been a commodity to corrupt state systems. My grandmother was taken from her family when her family brought her to the hospital to treat pneumonia - a common issue with asthmatic children in the 1920s, but declared to be enough to steal her. She ran back to her family, and her family moved shortly after that. Sounds like West Virginia might be stuck in the Great Depression.

  156. How many formative years do children get? How many of those years should be wasted trying to wait for an addict to get well? How much suffering should a child be allowed to endure? I have empathy for the mother but the best interests of the child should be our 1st priority. The mother has decided to build a life with an active drug addicted father and how long before he brings the mother back down with him. The odds are strong she will return to heroin as long as the father is involved and not clean.

  157. My wife worked in CPS for over 30 years. THere is always the balance of permanency and reunification. I question why relatives were not considered as a placement option. Protection is not only about keeping the child safe but also should include the child’s emotional well being. The story clearly shows that this mom may have lost her son due to the scales tipping toward adoption. Adoption is a viable option for kids when clearly the parents fail to rehabilitate.

  158. I am curious, this story presents the government as callous and unfeeling. If the baby stayed with the mother, and ended up dead who would the author blame?

  159. In my experience as a teacher in the public schools (10 years) the most abused children were those in foster care.

  160. The best interest of the child is to be with his mother. Full stop. The point of foster care should be reunification. This woman has stopped doing drugs. The boy is her child. Give him back.

  161. @BNYgal At least allow him to be in the care of her mother or other sober family members or friends. This child knows who loves him and has been torn away from the embrace of his family to the extent that the trauma will live with him for years, if not for the rest of his life.

  162. @BNYgal - do you have any sense of the life of a child who lives with a heroin-addicted mother? Spend some time at family court, or court-mandated parenting groups for heroin addicts, and learn about it before making such a simplistic comment. It is a horrible abusive life, not one that the mother in this article would likely subject her children to when sober; but when using, an addict is not making the choices. The heroin is choosing her behavior, and it will not favor the child.

  163. @BNYgal - what a fantastic pronouncement of wisdom based on ??? - right, nothing. The only truth is that the best interest of the child is being raised by parents who are sober, financially stable, and willing to make the ongoing sacrifices for his welfare. There is simply no empirical evidence that "being with the mother" is once and always the best option for a child, especially a mother whose own recovery hasn't even lasted a fully year yet. Ms. Jarratt's recovery and current sobriety is to be fully celebrated and supported. But that does not equate to putting a child back into what could be a dangerous situation.

  164. Do not give this little boy back to the mother! She is still in a relationship with a user and she will use again unless she is willing to cut ties with him. My daughter is addicted to heroin and I am sick at the things my grand daughters went through before we realized what was happening. PROTECT the CHILD!

  165. The mother is not the victim here. The child is. Foster families are saints.

  166. @Chris Not all of them. Some are abusive and greedy.

  167. What I'm troubled about when I read these sorts of stories is how one-sided they are - we learn about the point of view of the parent and their perception of the events, but no information - corroborating or otherwise - from the agency responsible for planning for the child, nor the judge responsible for making the decisions including terminating parental rights. Ms. Jarratt likely has a great deal of documentation she might have shared with the reporter that would have included service agreements with the agency and the legal justification for terminating parental rights. In Virginia the court can appoint an attorney for a parent, or they may pursue their own - but the bottom line is she had an attorney at all legal proceedings. Although Ms. Interlandi implies the child protective services agency is dismissive of Ms. Jarratt's admirable efforts to sustain sobriety and unfairly terminated parental rights, she made no effort to corroborate that information. In short, what we're reading is completely one-sided - we actually have no idea what the situation is, and why CPS have taken the steps that they have, nor why a judge ruled in favor of TPR. Typically that's considered irresponsible reporting, but it seems like when it comes to CPS, confirmational bias will do. That's unfortunate, as that does CPS and the clients they are mandated to serve a terrible disservice.

  168. A few months of sobriety is an achievement for anyone who has been severely addicted to drugs (I speak from experience), but recovery is a long and delicate process that is often fraught with relapse. Addicts deserve compassionate care and support — but so do their children. It's great that they love their kids, but it doesn't sound like they're well-equipped to care for them. I'm not saying they never will be, but it's not fair to keep the kid in limbo while Ms. Jarrat learns how to live again. Drug rehabilitation services should be available to anyone who needs it, and women need access to safe and affordable (free) birth control. I'm so tired of reading these stories. Addiction IS a disease, but we all must deal with the repercussions of poor choices. Signed, An adopted kid and former junkie

  169. @Jen This, thank you! We can be compassionate while minimizing the harm to others. Many adoptions from foster care are now open to varying degrees. A biological parent can still be part of their child's life if they are able to be safe (not necessarily clean).

  170. @Jen being an adopted former junkie does not make your opinion more valid. BUT, are you a parent? Because only then will you understand how physically connected you are with your children. She should not be punished for being a kid who made some mistakes. She clearly showed the will to be with her child and get sober. Government/State agencies should be banned form interfering in family matters. I would take the opinion of a professional psychologist who has personal knowledge of her treatment over a defunct agency worker any day.

  171. @Dan I don't consider my opinion to be "more valid," but my experience does inform my perspective (which I believe is nuanced, compassionate, and moderate). What I know is this: it takes years — not months — to recover from a severe drug addiction. As many others have stated, the article doesn't give an adequate look at both sides. I don't claim to know what should have been done differently, if anything, but I think it's foolish to rush to one side or the other. My greatest wish is that our society do more to support addicted women and get them the help that they need before the stakes get this high. The policies that informed the rehab worker's decision to flush Ms. Jarratt's Subutex are a prime example. Nevertheless, there's still a child's well-being to consider. It's not about punishing the mother; it's about protecting the child.

  172. Although I take issue with many facets of this one-sided column, I take issue most with the title - "Another Family Separation". To compare this situation to the family separation at the border (which is obviously the implication) is irresponsible. The family separations at the border are a cruel violation of human rights, leveraged against families that are already trying to escape inhumane conditions. This "family separation" is the result of a woman's addiction, which is a nuanced (albeit tragic) issue. Although it is a legitimate medical condition, this woman brought the "family separation" upon herself in many ways, most notably by failing to even ask for help during her pregnancy. To compare this "family separation" to the separations being imposed on immigrant families irresponsibly downplays the humanitarian crisis occurring at our border.

  173. @Abbie yes, and it's also a story of a birth father's addiction. The title really is quite shameful.

  174. There are so many layers to this and they are all emotional but I think the point of foster care is to eventually reunite children with their birth parents—and we as a society should honor that.

  175. It would be interesting to read this story from the child's perspective. The interests of children, who cannot protect themselves, must come first.

  176. This is not something most want to talk about, but the relapse rate for opioid and heroin addicts is extremely high--so high that there is almost no chance they won't relapse. I recall when deciding whether to divorce or give my first husband another chance reading a statistic that put it at 98% relapse within 1 year. I chose divorce and am so glad I did. He will battle his addiction for the rest of his life and no child (or spouse) deserves to live with that. I also have an uncle and his kids (my cousins) who all have battled heroin addiction. They are now in their 60s and cousins in their 30s and keep relapsing. They are clean for a year or two, then relapse. Rehab and "drug treatment" is just a revolving door. I realize that many people will hate this comment, but some people do not have a realistic shot at a clean life and heroin junkies are amongst them. They certainly have no business being parents. We should be focused on long term birth control.

  177. @Julie: the average heroin or opioid addict requires 12 OR MORE rehabs at $30-$60K each, and even then...most never get clean for good. Meaning, they can consume easily $500K to $750K of medical care -- on the public dole! -- but never get well. Meantime, we also have to pay for jail and welfare and foster care for the kids they abandon. Anyone who wants "single payer health care" -- pay attention! we can't have it if we waste every dime on hopeless cases who make their own problems.

  178. Very one sided article. Child Protective Services are only doing the best thing for the child. They do not get some kick back from adopting the kids out. Heroin addicts very rarely get it together for long.

  179. How does The Times know that it knows everything the child welfare people in Virginia know about this situation? You don't in fact know and, in greatest likelihood, by law they can't tell you. Until we stop regarding addicts as sympathetic figures our society will never resolve this. Chances of re-addiction are infinitely greater than recovery. That we know. We should know too that it is wrong to send children into homes (including the extended family) where there has been addiction, where there is greater reason to believe there will be again then there is to believe it will not recur.

  180. What about the child? The well being of the kid is more important that his mom wanting to regain custody.

  181. @James The well being of the child is very much part of his being reunited with his birth mother whose illness is under control. Based on facts in this article, as young as he is the boy knows very well who his grandmother is, even if it does not discuss his relationship to his mother now.

  182. @James It sounds as the well being of the child is not being considered at all. Ripping him away from his grandmother when he reaches for her can only have traumatized him further. Why not allow the child to live with any number of sober friends and relatives, instead of shipping him off elsewhere. They are screwing up this child big time with their alleged 'helpful' interference.

  183. @James Please, please, please learn more about family bonds and foster care. What's best for the kid IS to be with his birth family. I say this as a former foster mom who was dumbfounded 20 years ago that our abused kid wanted nothing more than to be with family--and she would have been better off if the family unit had been supported.

  184. This article is a disgrace and a sham. If one did not know better, one would think that heroin chose here rather than the other way around. It is written as if this woman were an innocent victim. The fact is, she chose heroin; although the consequences may be harsh and heart-rendering, there is such a thing as accountability. Where is it>

  185. I know this may be considered very un-pc, but I am being both serious and sincere, and even caring, in offering Lindsey two words of advice -- birth control. I do not recall any mention of her educational status, whether or not she is employed or employable, where she lives and with whom, or how she pays her bills. We know her son's father is also addicted and a convicted felon, which is not a good situation in which to raise children; no clue if he is also the daughter's father. Perhaps it is in everyone's best interests that you NOT bring a third child into this mess. Lindsey, do yourself and everyone else a huge favor and see a doctor about the best birth control method for you.

  186. This case sounds as though the baby should go back to his mother because she is staying off drugs.

  187. This article is an indirect argument for prison nursery programs in more states. With a good peri-natal therapy for mother with babe in arms, the anxious attachment which led to mother seeking drugs, the risk of relapse is lessened and the risk of inter generational transmission of mother’s emotional problems is lessened as well. Many recovering addict mothers cannot stay clean unless they are institutionalized and engage in such a program while unable to drug seek. Otherwise something simple like infant cries can send them into relapse once again.

  188. Thanks to all who helped shared this story. A focus on the approach of child protective services in cases like this is needed. Hopefully, agencies across the county do a better job of finding family placements than was done in this case. Remaining with biological family can serve children like Brayden in the long term as their parents do the work necessary to provide a safe home for their children.

  189. She's there, she's well, she's on meds (usually 4 to 5 times people relapse). The fosters are running the clock. Fostering is reuniting when safe to do so. She's met those requirements. It's time for visitation and reintegration of this family while keeping child stable with the fosters.

  190. I'm sure the courts know that recidivism rates of addicts is very high: only 10% make it to a year. I don't believe "a few months" is enough time.

  191. Wondering what the writer's point is here. This article is simply a description of a routine-sounding child welfare case of the kind that plays out every day across the country. Is the intent to inspire sympathy for the mother? I'm pretty sure this is presented so preferentially toward the parent because the child welfare agency is prohibited (properly) by confidentiality rules from discussing the background it considers in making these decisions. Please approach these important child welfare issues with more insight and understanding of the process and the wide spectrum of considerations that go into every difficult decision agencies must make.

  192. There is a middle ground and win-win-win here. Foster care costs taxpayer money. Create a highly supervised and outcomes-based reunification program and process with clear accountability on the part of the mother and CPS. Use the money spent on foster care to fund it. If the mother can’t provide the stability and consistency that the foster system can, then it’s clear who should have custody. Give the mother another chance but this time with resources that help her and the father be successful. Look at a 2-year process. Determine the cost of foster care for that period. Use those funds to create a parenting, child development, addiction control, ability to create and maintain a stable growing environment to keep the family together, and education program for this family. The mother and father deserve a chance since she is doing well with the second child. But, she can’t do it alone. Be creative Virginia CPS, and for the mother, be willing to step up and defy the naysayers and show you can be held accountable. Foster collaboration and partnerships. Everyone wins: the child, the parents, the family, the system, the community, and taxpayers!!

  193. @Carl Johnson But does the child really win? What you're proposing is to put the child in a very uncertain situation, where the mom may or may not keep her act together. If she doesn't, then the child is in the care of a relapsed drug addict, before being removed ONCE AGAIN to another family's care. I sympathize with the mother, but kids need stability. It's not right to gamble their lives and well being just because we want to give the mother another chance.

  194. Ok. Odds are she wouldn't have had parental rights terminated if she had been following her treatment plan which no doubt included stay sober, staying away from other addicts, providing a safe environment ect.. And it is odd that none of the other family members were considered ( or maybe they were and were found to be unsuitable - the story didn't really go into her family that much)considering it is pretty standard to look for family members first in a removal. I say this because, if a mom is following a treatment plan and corrected the conditions, there generally is a push to reunify by CASA, mom's attorney. I feel there is a little more to the story than depicted.

  195. This is a very sad story, but just wondering why the grandparents, or other family members were not allowed to have custody of the child. Were they interviewed and determined to be unacceptable? After working with many many children, I found that they have a deep need to know about their birth parents. They may not be able to express it until they are older, but at some time they will be researching to find them. With the Internet, it is becoming available to children at a younger and younger age. They just need to know how to use a search engine! I sincerely wish this child. his parents and the adoptive family a healthy peaceful life!

  196. I don't know if my mother was a junkie or not, but when I was kid, she wasn't around. I was fortunate to have my grandmother raise me. Did my mother love me? Perhaps, but she was ill equipped and lacked the discipline to raise a child. We give too much credit to biological parents and that does a disservice to real parents who raise a child regardless of who birthed it. Your mother isn't who pushed you out, it's who raised you. Ideally they an be both, but the latter is far more important. In retrospect I am extremely grateful that the woman who gave birth to me was out of the picture. I can only imagine how screwed up I would have turned out otherwise.

  197. If you kept the same story but used pictures of any minority family, the comments would be different. All of this empathy would shrink the size of a pea! Who am I kidding, an article like this would never been written about a family of color.

  198. Read the comments. There's not that much empathy. (Nor should there be. This couple should not have had the first or second child, and their primary focus now should be long-acting or permanent birth control.)

  199. I don’t get this piece. Where is the other side of the story? No input from the caseworkers or the foster parents? There is no ambiguity in the situation — just straight-up injustice and bad treatment by the government? I think it would be more responsible for The Times to be more balanced in stories like this. Hard problems should be portrayed as hard.

  200. maybe dont do heroin while having a baby and after having the child and you wont have them taken away. The mother feels like a victim but the only victim here is her children. what's the purpose of this article?

  201. How naive. Addicts are among the best at manipulation and creating feelings of pity towards them. Despite her professed love of her child- there's nothing she loves better than getting high. The writer believes she's ready for her baby back, and she may actually believe it herself, but I'm not sure I do. You just can't tell with addicts.

  202. A few months sober is not enough. Come back in two years and the case can be reviewed again.

  203. Denying a child’s right to privacy to proclaim your “sobriety” is, perhaps, a good parental fitness test. So to the editorial team.

  204. The problem with stories like these is that the agency and foster families are bound by confidentiality. We never hear their side of the story. I worked in child welfare for over a decade. The parents' stories were always the same. They were great parents. They didn't do anything wrong. CPS just swooped in and stole their kids. We made commissions for placing them in foster care. Etc. They never, ever shared with the media that their caseworker came by their house and found them passed out with a needle in their arm while their children roamed the house hungry and filthy in a two day old diaper. Or that episodes like that had happened on multiple occasions. So many unanswered questions here. Why was nobody in her family considered? What were the wishes of the father? What was the child's level of adjustment to the adoptive family? How did she and the child interact in their visits? Her rights are terminated. There is no reason why her young son should not begin calling the woman who's been and will likely continue to raise him "Mommy".

  205. @SpaceCake: Thank you. Exactly.

  206. This is joke, she and her husband should not being have more children when they had their first one removed from them! You can feel no empathy for them, their child needs to be put first and removal of that child did exactly that. Jail and drugs, does not equal a good environment. No one is perfect but these people do not deserve the right to have children.

  207. Confused about a system that says a parent is not healthy enough to raise one of her children, but can keep the other.

  208. The article is one-sided. As has been stated, other family members must have had their own issues or would have been first to get custody. It made the sound of the clock ticking very ominous but there was reason the period to resolve cases was made shorter. The timeline of childhood is short and shouldn't be spent in limbo.