ROANOKE COUNTY – Many kids are ending up in foster care because of drugs, and it’s a growing problem across Virginia. Addicted parents are struggling with day-to-day life and leaving kids behind.
Dakota and Jasmine were born into different families, but have similar stories about drug addiction.
“My father was never around,” said Jasmine Eaton, who is 15-years-old. “My mom was in and out of jail. They were both addicted to drugs. My grandmother– I lived with her for seven years and she was addicted to drugs.”
“His mom [Dakota] struggles with addiction. When we got the phone call about Dakota we got a phone call that we had a child in the hospital that was addicted to meth and wanted to know if we would be considered to be his family,” said Tasha Eaton, a foster and adoptive mom.
In Virginia 30-percent of kids are in foster care because of drug abuse by a parent according to the Virginia Department of Social Services and the local Department of Social Services (DSS) are on the front lines.
“When I moved to Virginia I had never worked a social work case involving heroin. Now the majority of our cases at DSS have a connection with addiction or substance abuse. Opiates are rampant as is marijuana,” said Ben Jones, Roanoke County Family Services supervisor.
The kids are the ones that suffer.
“I moved through five homes in my fourth grade year,” said Jasmine.
But for Jasmine and Dakota, the Eaton family changed their lives. Ten foster kids have lived with Tasha Eaton and she’s adopted seven.
“If I was living with my biological family I wouldn’t be able to do as many things as I am. Now I play volleyball. I go out and I hang out with my friends and I go have fun,” said Jasmine.
Four hours after Dakota come home from the hospital to the Eatons, his tests came back clean.
He wasn’t born addicted to meth.
“I usually like to do math and my favorite part of school is spelling,” said Dakota Eaton, who is now 7-years-old.
Dakota’s biological mom is in his life and he calls her “Aunt Bobbi”.
“I have two dads, two moms and have lots of brothers and sisters, and it feels great,” said Dakota.
“We realized very quickly that Dakota’s biological mom was very special. She looked at him with love, she held him with love and we realized that for her to be a part of his life would mean he had someone else in his life to love him,” said Tasha.
Jasmine talks with her family too but doesn’t see them often. The 15-year old doesn’t want families to shy away from kids like her.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that people that come from foster care or come from bad backgrounds aren’t always going to end up like their parents,” said Jasmine.