About 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
Janet Siemer is a nurse and single mother from Ohio, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis. Thousands of children get trapped inside the states foster care system waiting to be adopted or turned back over to their parents once they get sober.
Siemer adopted two young children named Landon and Mi after fostering them for two years.
“The reason I became a foster parent is I saw every day how heroin affects families and there were children in need of foster care,” said Janet. “But also because I love children, so why not?”
When she first met Landon, he had already spent the first seven weeks of his life in a hospital recovering from addiction.
“He had all the symptoms. The diarrhea. The vomiting. The sensitivity to light. So it was quite a challenge the first three nights. He would wake up screaming. I'd comfort him and he'd fall asleep for five minutes. And then he'd wake up again. After the first night I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what am I getting myself into?'” she told WKRC News.
A few months later she brought home Makayla, who was also a heroin baby, but in better shape at birth. Both children were taken from their birth parents because of drug related problems.
Landon and Makayla are not biologically related, but thanks to Siemer, the three are now officially a family.
The goal of the court system and the foster care system is to ultimately return foster children to their birth parents. But according to Jessica Parks of the Necco Foster Care Agency, the reality is that because of the growing heroin epidemic, it doesn't happen that way as often anymore.
“I've been in this field 14 years and this is something we've never seen. In fact, we expected it to take a different turn, almost a decline in foster care, but now the numbers continue to rise daily."