Drug abusers' young kids suffer
the nightmare and anxiety
By Debra Hawkins
December 15, 2008 | She is scared of red and blue
flashing lights. Her reoccurring nightmare is one of
men in dark blue uniforms and badges coming in cars
with flashing lights to take her away. To her, the police
are the bad guys, not the white substance controlling
She has never purposely partaken of the drug, but
at 9 years old, she can't really control what her mother
does. By the time Deejae was 16 months old, she was
in protective custody and her mother had given in to
the addiction again. She hadn't meant to. She had already
lost two children through foster care and adoption and
she said she had no intention of losing another. Terri
truly wanted to provide for her child, but when her
tax return came through shortly before Deejae turned
2, $40 went to buy a new vacuum and the rest was smoked
up in a glass pipe.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,
methamphetamines, or meth, as it is more commonly known,
is a very addictive drug, affecting the central nervous
system. The drug increases levels of dopamine in the
brain, affecting the user's motor function, motivation
to accomplish necessary tasks for human survival and
can lead to thrill seeking. Meth is one of the more
popular drugs because it can be made from household
products and can be taken several ways, including smoking,
ingesting, snorting and injection.
Terri said her first experience with drugs came when
she was 12. Everybody around her did drugs, including
her mother and sisters. She started out slow with cigarettes
and alcohol before moving on to marijuana. She said
she only wanted to see why everyone else around her
was doing drugs but after she tried them for herself,
she couldn't stop.
"I like the way that it made me feel," Terri said.
"There have been many times I have wanted to stop and
When Terri was 21 years old, the marijuana and alcohol
weren't enough anymore and she started to try meth.
She was first caught and charged with possession of
the drug two years later when two police officers stopped
by her apartment to see why so many people liked to
hang out there. She was charged with possession of drug
parapaneila and later released.
A year after she was released, Terri said her house
was raided for drugs. There were 10 adults and five
children, two of which were her own, in the house at
"They busted my door down," Terri said. "Ten cops
came in screaming with their guns. I remember when they
took me out to the police car all of my neighbors were
standing around watching. The whole apartment complex
saw me get arrested that night."
Terri said she listened in horror as the rest of the
apartment was searched and the police came across the
children in the other room.
"I didn't get to say anything to my kids," she said.
"The police went into their rooms and I could hear my
kids screaming. The cops pointed their guns at my daughters
until they realized they were little children."
She said she lost custody of her two oldest daughters
that night. Her two children spent the next day in a
shelter home. It was her oldest daughter's seventh birthday.
Terri said she attended classes and stopped doing
drugs, trying to do everything she could to get her
children back. She said she believes the foster parents
with custody of her children did everything they could
to turn her children against her.
"When they told me that they were going to go for
termination of my parental rights, they told me that
my middle daughter didn't even think of me as her mom."
Terri said. "This was the daughter that had never spent
one day away from me until I was arrested and now she
only thought of me as some lady she had to see once
a week and she didn't even like doing that. I truly
believe they turned my kids against me."
Terri was promised an open adoption, with cards, pictures
and visitations rights, but in the last nine years,
Terri said she has seen her children three times, with
the last time being nearly eight years ago. Her youngest
daughter, Deejae, was two weeks old at the time.
Shortly before Deejae was born, Terri turned back
to drugs, smoking marijuana for the last few weeks of
her pregnancy. When her baby was 2 months old, Terri
went back to meth. With her two oldest daughters, Terri
had been careful to do drugs away from them, but with
Deejae, Terri did the drugs in the same room as her
"I did a bad thing with her," Terri said. "The whole
time Deejae was a baby, I did drugs around her. She
wouldn't stay in the other room while I was trying to
get high so I would go get high with her there."
When Terri stopped doing her after-care treatments
mandated by the state, a social worker obtained a court
order and took Deejae into protective custody.
"It was more traumatic when they took Deejae away
because I never thought I would get her back," Terri
Although it was more traumatic in the beginning, Terri
said she realized how different this time was going
to be. Terri said she felt the foster family taking
care of her daughter really wanted her to succeed in
getting her child back and she was accepted in a program
called Drug Court.
According to the National Association of Drug Court
Professionals, Drug Court is a program designed to help
people recover from their addictions without having
to permanently incarcerate them. In Terri's case, she
would call in every day to a system that would let her
know whether or not she had to come and take a drug
test that day. If she followed the steps of the program,
including clean drug tests, getting a job and a safe
place to live, she would progress and be rewarded. For
Terri, the rewards were extended time with her daughter
and eventually being allowed to take her daughter places
without supervision for their visits.
In the beginning of her experience with Drug Court,
Terri continued to use drugs. Operating under the three
strikes and you're out rule, Terri said she was told
she had two more chances or her parental rights to her
youngest daughter would be terminated. Terri, not wanting
to lose another child, kept herself clean for a year
and a half. After nine months of a clean record, Deejae
was returned to Terri.
"As happy as I was to have her home, it scared the
crap out of me," Terri said.
About a year after Deejae was returned to her, Terri
said she thought she was strong enough to drink without
getting back into drugs, but within a few months she
was using drugs just as before.
Terri used drugs on and off for the next few years.
She said she attempted to clean up her act several times
but could never pull it off by herself. She said the
drug usage terrified Deejae and made her act out. "She
was out of control," Terri said. "She worries about
me all the time. She followed me around the house to
make sure I wasn't using."
Terri just recently completed a program at a rehab
house that allowed her to bring Deejae with her. Since
she has stayed clean, things between the two of them
have been much better.
"She doesn't argue with me and she doesn't whine and
cry like she used to," Terri said. "We spend time together.
Although I know she is still scared, sometimes I will
go and get high again."
Terri said she works hard at staying clean and making
sure her daughter doesn't follow in her footsteps.
"I am trying to remind her of all of the bad things
she has seen with me," Teri said. "I tell her that she
can be so much more than what I was. It is a waste of
time for her to be like her mom. She can be so much
better than I was."
Since Terri's last stint in rehab, Deejae has been
less fearful, with fewer dreams of the cops taking her
away from her mom, but Terri said both of their lives
are a work in progress and that is what she attends
to do: keep progressing.