When a pregnant mother has a drug or alcohol problem, or there is spousal abuse taking place, the effect that has on a child can be devastating. While making our documentary film License to Parent, we interviewed Kathy Friend and her husband who have fostered 32 newborns over the years from mothers on drugs, alcohol, or in abusive relationships. As Kathy says, “The damage starts in utero, and there's scientific proof of that. You and I, as parents, did damage to our children in utero, and we didn't even know that we were doing it. And we weren't drug addicts or alcoholics. But things that are said, stress, tension, that all affects an unborn child. And it's a proven fact.”
With that in mind, Kathy and her husband help the newborns attempt to recover. They’ve spent countless hours holding babies going through withdrawal. Kathy feels that no child should have to go through that and says, “If a child is born positive for drugs at birth, the mother should be arrested right then and there. And I've said that for 19 years. But again, Mom's got lots of rights. And yes the baby has some rights, but Mom has lots of rights.”
So what can be done about this? Helping to better educate parents and to provide emotional support is an important step. This often brings up the question, who is going to pay for it? According to Kathy, there are ways to work with existing services to make classes available. In order to become a foster parent in Texas, you have to take a class called PRIDE. That’s short for Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education. She thinks that any time a child has to be removed from their home, at a minimum the parents should have to take this class. She’s brought it up to Child Protective Services, but it gets shot down because of a lack of funding.
At Move the World Films, we applaud the work Kathy does to help children. She’s seen first hand that if a woman is going to have a baby she needs to get off drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. A pregnant mother has no right to be putting drugs into her innocent child’s body. The stories Kathy tells of babies going through withdrawals are heart breaking, as are the stories of women in abusive relationships where damage can be inflicted upon an unborn child.
In our award winning documentary film License to Parent, you can meet Kathy and hear more about the challenging work she does to help babies in need.