Leap of Faith

Editor’s Note: Name, dates and locations have been changed or eliminated to protect the identity of this adoptive family. They don’t want their son to face any social stigma regarding his birth, but they graciously agreed to share their story with the hopes of changing perceptions of “drug babies,” or babies born with drug exposure.

When Kelly and Jim embarked on their adoption journey, they never imagined the leap of faith that they’d take to reach their son Mason. The couple, who has been married for seven years, has one biological daughter Kristin who was conceived through IUI, and though they briefly pursued fertility treatments for a second child when Kristin was two, they turned to adoption pretty quickly. The couple even had family and friends who had adopted.

“Seeing all the different families made through adoption made us feel real comfortable with the idea,” Kelly says.

After being active for just under six months, Kelly got an email about an available situation that was far outside the couple’s APQ. The baby had been born the day before and had heroin exposure. The couple called a friend who is a NICU nurse and spoke with a neonatologist. After reassurance that the baby boy could overcome the drug exposure and grow up healthy, the couple accepted the situation.

“We made the decision within the hour,” Kelly says. Kelly and Jim traveled to the hospital, in the same state in which they live, that very day.

The following morning, they met their son’s birth mother. Kelly says that meeting her son’s birth mother completely changed her perception of a “drug birth mom.”

“She is a good person in a bad situation,” she says. “She didn’t realize that this thing that somebody had given her to make her feel less depressed was so addictive that she couldn’t just walk away from it like she could with alcohol or cigarettes. She was so thankful and appreciative that we were willing to take him. She knew that she needed to get her life on track, and she was blessed that we stepped in to take care of him.”

Two days after Mason’s birth, he began to experience withdrawal, and the hospital began the process of weaning him from heroin.

“It’s sad that they’re so well-versed in this stuff,” Jim says, of the hospital procedures.

Baby Mason was given Methadone treatments and check-ups hourly. Nurses stayed around the clock to monitor his body for symptoms of withdrawal, watching everything from the contents of his diapers to how often he sneezed. As his symptoms improved, they slowly started increasing the amount of time between dosages and then started reducing the amount per dosage.

Kelly and Jim were able to stay in the hospital and provide skin-to-skin contact with Mason, establishing physical connections as his primary caregivers. Doctors hypothesize that this can help a baby recover from drug withdrawal faster. It can be more difficult for a baby to quickly and successfully wean from heroin if his mother is still using the drug—or is going through withdrawal herself—because she may not be able to be as attentive or present during the infant’s withdrawal and recovery.

Baby Mason remained in the hospital for just 13 days, a remarkably short time for successful withdrawal.

“He went fast in his weaning,” Jim says. “They even let him skip a couple steps because it went so well.”

The couple has decided to keep the details of Mason’s birth story private because they don’t want him growing up with any kind of stigma. Doctors have told them that they don’t expect him to grow up with any related health issues.

“The only thing they told us that could be different is that he may have a different learning style,” Kelly says. “And what child doesn’t?”

To read the rest of this amazing adoption story, visit their Adoptive Family Testimonial on our website.