When an Addict Starts Over
Earlier this month, on the back page of the science section in The New York Times, the Partnership at Drug-Free.org had a full-page ad that proclaimed Your story can change someone else’s, in all caps. The following phrase appeared toward the bottom: Addiction is hopeless without you. Share your story of recovery or message of hope with someone who needs to hear it. With the rest of the page blank, these were powerful messages.
I thought how fitting that the organization should do this during a holiday season—try to move people to action to help addicts, and to remind people that countless people are affected when there’s an addict in the family. Finally, the ad reminds people of how rampant drug use is and that we need to talk about it and keep talking about it to focus attention on it.
The Times’ Neediest Cases column, which appears annually at this time of year to solicit donations for the less fortunate, appeared the same day. Occasionally the person featured has had a problem with addiction, and wouldn’t you know it, the person who appeared that week was one of them.
Miguel Adams already had three children with whom he had lost touch after their mother moved away with them when she and Miguel divorced. When his girlfriend got pregnant, he didn’t want to lose touch with this child, too. But he had been in prison for dealing drugs, and was still using, so who knew what lay in store? On learning of the pregnancy in 2006, he entered recovery and kicked his problem. Two years later, he fathered yet another child with his girlfriend, and this woman, too, moved away.
In 2009 Miguel found out the two children were placed in foster care because of their mother’s drug problem. He decided he wanted custody of them, and it took him a couple of years, but he succeeded, even with his less-than-desirable past. By then he had been diagnosed with H.I.V as well. (Turns out he had been sharing needles when he was drugging and is the only one of that group still alive.) He had to take parenting and anger-management classes, and agree to be monitored, but he finally got guardianship of his children last year.
How many times do you hear you can’t get clean for someone else, you have to do it for yourself? Here’s a man who sounds nothing short of amazing to have straightened out. To be determined to be an involved father and give his children at least one sober parent. He says he’s clean, and hopefully a child services organization is keeping a close watch.
And the children….how lucky after being in the foster care system to have a parent rehabilitate himself. Did he do it for them, or can we say he really did it for himself, to show himself that he could be a man he could be proud of? In this case, does it really matter? The family may be poor and need to turn to social services for help, but they’re rich in family now. Even though the children are only 4 and 5, he said that one actually thanked him for removing them from foster care.
How many family members would give their right arm to have a relative like Miguel? I’d love to be there when he educates his kids about he and their mother using drugs. Hopefully Miguel’s story got to someone, someone who needs to hear it, as the Partnership says. Maybe even the children’s mother.