Keeping Your Family Strong--Even Through Divorce

NAS, Addiction & Child Custody: Common Myths You Should Know

by Kristen Wright

Problems with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) have risen tremendously along with the numbers of individuals who are addicted to substances. If you have taken drugs while you are pregnant, you are bound to have some concerns about your infant and what will happen as far as custody goes when your child is born. There are quite a few myths out there associated with these situations. Take a look at some of those myths that you should know. 

Myth: You immediately lose custody if your child is born addicted to an illegal substance. 

Whether or not you will lose custody of your child will depend on the state where you live. Some states have laws in place that state children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome must immediately be taken from the mother and placed with either a stable family member or a state foster care home. Most states that do reject custody initially, do so on a temporary basis to allow the mother time to achieve a drug abstinence or treatment program. Permanent custody is not revoked unless the mother does not take steps required by the local child protection agency to prove they can offer a stable, drug-free environment for the child. 

Myth: When a child is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome due to medication-assisted treatment, you could still lose custody. 

There are a few medications that are used to help treat addiction that have been approved for use by pregnant mothers. If your baby is born addicted to these substances because you were seeking medication-assisted treatment, you should not lose custody of the child. Your baby will be born with NAS, but the condition will be expected and treated accordingly as long as you are open with your doctor throughout your pregnancy about what type of medication-assisted treatment you are doing. 

Myth: It will do you no good to get an attorney if you've lost custody of your infant due to NAS. 

If you are determined to show the court that you are working hard to get your child's custody back after losing parental rights due to NAS, talking to an attorney is a good idea. Your attorney can help ensure you are treated properly, all of your efforts to stay sober and create a stable home are rightly documented, and more. Having legal counsel can help encourage the process along so you do not have to be without your child any longer than necessary. Find a child custody attorney who can help you with your case.