How Jonah’s Journey Brings Hope for Families of Opioid Crisis

February 26, 2018

If you do a quick internet search of “opioid use and foster care crisis,” you’ll find page after page of articles lamenting the children whose families and safety have become casualties of the rise in opioid addiction that has recently been declared a national crisis.

Startling statistics detail the increased need for foster care corresponding with the increase in opioid addiction, overdose and death. The number of U.S. children in foster care continues to rise, and the most recently released data shows 34% of children that are removed from their home are removed because of a parent’s drug abuse. Tennessee has seen rising numbers of deaths due to overdose, and a huge surge of parental right terminations due to maternal drug use. Here in Middle Tennessee, reports show more than 3 times the national average of babies born addicted.

It can be easy to cast stones, but the reality is that many opiate addictions begin with prescribed painkillers that carry highly addictive properties. When the prescription is no longer an option, individuals may turn to heroin or other drugs available on the street. As addiction takes hold, individuals often withdraw from family and friends and lose interest in the life that once sustained them. Children in these homes are often surrendered to state foster care when parents are arrested and incarcerated, or even seek rehabilitation.

While these sobering statistics may seem insurmountable, your support for Jonah’s Journey actually helps meet the needs of children affected by this crisis. When a mother or a pregnant woman in the greater Nashville area is incarcerated (often due to opioid use) she often has the option to voluntarily place her child with Jonah’s Journey. When she makes that decision, she then begins to develop a relationship with the family who will care for her child as their own until she is released. These families demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ by visiting her in prison, and helping her to maintain a healthy relationship with her child.

Jonah’s Journey knows that reintegration into a healthy community is one of the most important factors in preventing a mother’s recidivism or relapse. To help give these women the best chance at becoming a successful parent and productive member of society, relationships are a top priority for us. Often when a mother is released, her Jonah’s Journey family picks her up from the prison and helps her find safe, appropriate housing for her reunified family, providing encouragement as she gets back on her feet. These families continue to provide care for her child when she goes for job interviews or attends recovery meetings, and function as an extended family she can call on in moments of need.

Through unconditional love and compassion, Jonah’s Journey is making an impact on families who have become victims of the opioid crisis. When you give to Jonah’s Journey, you become a part of the solution. Ending the opioid epidemic and reversing the increase in children in foster care won’t happen overnight. But here at Jonah’s Journey we know that we can create positive change for families here in Tennessee. Will you join us?