The story of a foster mum in Malta, caring for babies born addicted to drugs

[ 1 ] 29/06/2014 |


Most children who come into the world, have been dreamt of, wished for, planned for.

Many these days however, were not planned and decisions have to be made that are sometimes heartbreaking.

Many are born through drunken one night stands, alcohol induced stupors and drugged up highs.

Unlike that drunken one night stand, the little line on the test kit a few weeks later, can’t be resolved with a couple of painkillers and lots of water. That ladies, is here to stay. Say hello to a brand new life, a life no longer yours to abuse. Time to grow up. In 9 months time a little bundle will be placed in your arms and you and you alone will be left with no instruction book and no manual or schedule. Life is just about to get crazy.

So many babies come into the world this way, for many they are lucky and their parents get the loud wakeup call and tackle parenting head on and brilliantly. For others, well for others they just can’t do it. Some believe it or not just won’t change their ways, even with this beautiful gift that they have created, helpless and longing for a mother’s love and affection, and some, well some continue their binge drinking, late nights and drug induced stupors.

The latter being the most dangerous if the mother doesn’t heed her pregnancy and change her habits to incorporate the innocent, unborn child.

Many will. Many won’t and continue the abuse of their bodies to the detriment of the growing fetus.

The result of which is a baby born addicted to hard drugs. A baby who now has to endure detox. A baby terrified of a sound, screams in pain at the light. Touch hurts and tremors take over his tiny body. In the first few days breathing is difficult whilst drugs no newborn should have to experience pump through his tiny body to give him peace from the terrors, the tremors, the sweats, the chills, the pain.

Feeding is difficult, combined with the exhaustion of the daily medical interventions and the lack of human contact.

These babies didn’t ask to be born, yet in a quiet darkened room another baby lays through the complete selfishness of the Mother who bore him. It angers me to say Mother because no true mother would put a baby through the trauma of detox.

I used to feel sorry for these Mother’s until I saw firsthand the agony of a baby born addicted. Now I believe they should be locked up for endangerment or manslaughter because let’s not fool ourselves some of these tiny tots don’t make it.

Who chooses a habit over their unborn child?

Caring for a baby fresh from detox is not easy and anyone considering it should think very, very carefully.

A 90ml bottle can take anything from 45 minutes to an hour to feed and another hour to digest and by the time your head hits that pillow, you can almost guarantee it will be short lived because in those early days, they will be looking for a feed again within 30 minutes.

Carrying them next to you is the easiest way to get them through. 24/7 bonding which can go on for months till one day two dark brown eyes peer at you from beneath the swaddling and deep within the papoose and her lips curl into a smile and you know you have broken through. That day is the start to the rest of their lives.

This is my 7th drug addicted baby. The girls came first, one at 3 weeks and one at 3 months, so in effect I had no sooner bought everything for one baby girl than the next one arrived and almost everything had to be doubled, except for me 🙂 They were both exactly the same age.

€70 a week in childcare allowance, does not begin to cover the outlay and the expense of raising children. You have to love what you do and be prepared for the heartbreak, because if and when these little ones leave you and you are not heartbroken, chances are you didn’t do it right … You have to bond with these children, for how else are they going to achieve.

In most countries these babies would be brought through detox and prepared for immediate adoption. More so if this was the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th child born with the same diagnosis. Fostering would be a short term placement where the new parents would visit frequently in an effort to bond with the baby. Bonding is so important for these babies born into a kaleidoscope of emotions.

Don’t let anyone tell you that they “get over it”. Many don’t and are left with permanent scarring. Hearing loss, blindness, tremors, convulsions, to name but a few.

At the same time you will hear that children are adaptable, resilient, they bounce back etc etc. That’s what the professionals would like you to think because it is easier. One just needs to look at the growing mental health situation taking over our lives. Children are tiny little people, who hurt, who get confused, who didn’t ask to be born, but we expect, no we need them to be resilient, so as life as we know it, moves on neatly.

I will never forget talking to a carer about my fears for the little ones in my charge, and she turned to me and said, “they have no option but to get used to it”……… why? Why should they be put through this? Taken from my arms, screaming, into the arms of a stranger, still screaming and put in a room with yet more ‘strangers’?? It’s me who has to settle him when he comes back and hour later still screaming. “He is in the system now he will learn to accept it”. Not much leaves me speechless but that did. Almost like someone once saying to me that children in care had to man up and accept they will be teased or taunted for not having a ‘real’ mummy or daddy.

Many of these children will live years comfortably with foster parents knowing nothing else, till one fine day, it is decided that now is the time for them to be introduced to their birth parent. It says it in the book so it has to happen. If the child has been raised in a secure, loving happy environment it should be a walk in the park and if it isn’t well they have to get used to it. It’s every parent’s right to have access to their child and if there are struggles then there are the psychologists on hand to step in and assist.

When are people going to realize that children are not belongings? They are not something you buy in a store then have the ‘right’ to do what you want for your benefit with. Stick it in the closet with the label still on till you can be bothered doing something with.

This all seems so normal in black and white. The very saddest thing is that this is not normal and it is not the way we should expect a child to live.

If you had told me 6 years ago I was going to be a brand new mummy to, now two 4 year olds, a 2 year old and goodness knows how many more lined up and waiting, struggling now to understand why their lives have just been turned upside down, I would have laughed at you and run a mile.

There is no such thing as short term fostering in Malta so if you are considering it, think very, very hard as these children need a lifetime’s commitment as I have found, yet I wouldn’t change my life for anything.


Written by a mum in Malta

Should you consider to become a foster parent in Malta, please follow the links below for all relevant information

Category: Guest posts

Comments (1)

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  1. wow! you are a wonderful person…I would love to have the strength you are showing to have. Keep it up!

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