Webster describes an epidemic as “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.” By any and all calculations, the opioid crisis in America has hit epidemic proportions. With nearly 175 Americans dying everyday from opioid addiction, the problem is on almost everyone’s radar.
The lesser known impact of the the opioid addiction epidemic is this malady’s affect on the rising population of children in foster care. Research conducted by Birnbaum and Lora indicates that “[a]fter a decade of decline, the number of children in foster care across the country began to rise in 2010, just as opioid deaths began to spike.” According to their article in The Hill, “[a]mong states hardest hit by the epidemic, the populations of children in foster or state care has risen by 15 percent to 30 percent in just the last four years.”
Experts in the field of child welfare will almost certainly agree that parental drug or alcohol addiction is the number one common denominator of children entering foster care. Some seasoned child welfare experts calculate that upwards of 95 percent of children in foster care have parents with life-altering drug or alcohol addiction problems.
With this root cause identified, every responsible citizen (and much more applicably, Christian) must ask themselves if the community is responding appropriately. What resources is the church and state devoting to helping families that struggle with drug addiction. If parents struggle with drug addiction, where can they go for help before a crisis arises that results in their children being taken into care? What about resources for drug addicted parents after their children are taken into care? How can we help parents heal and begin re-engaging with their children?
Whatever the current responses is, everyone should agree that it’s not adequate. We can also agree that some parents will simply not avail themselves of the resources that are available. Thus, the always present and ubiquitous need for stable foster parents to care for the children caught up in the poor decisions of their parents.
Have you considered being a foster parent? If not, please give it some thought … and maybe take the first step!
Inevitably, there will be children whose parents refuse to get help, and whose parents are devoured by the sickness of addiction. For these children, the best option for them to have happy and productive lives to be adopted into a loving stable family. Adoption always has a linning of sadness – adoption always rises like a Phoenix out of the ashes of some tragedy.
Have you considered that your response to the opioid epidemic may be to start the foster care or adoption process today? Please prayerfully consider that today. At any given time, Alabama is home to approximately 4,500 foster children who need loving stable families… and almost 400 age out every year with no loving adoptive family to call home.
You can be the difference maker in one child’s life!