The Grapevine

New Mom Suspected Of Drug Addiction Has Baby Taken Away For A Week, Despite Inconclusive Drug Test

baby
An increasing amount of babies in the United States are born addicted to drugs. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

As heroin and prescription drug abuse continues to increase in America, so does the number of children addicted to these substances. In an attempt to protect infants, hospitals have cracked down on their observation of new mothers, but unfortunately this has frightening consequences for drug-free mothers being denied access to their newborns.

The first week with your newborn is meant to consist of getting to know your baby, but for Tiffany Langwell it was spent trying to get back her baby. Langwell told Cosmopolitan that she had left the hospital early “against medical advice” because it seemed that both she and her baby were doing well. The next day she was met by a representative of the child welfare agency. She was given an on-spot drug test, but because her saliva was too thick the results came back “inconclusive.” The agent then proceeded to take away her newborn and place the child in foster care.

The agents took her infant into protective custody, stating that the hospital workers reported that she, her fiancé, and his mother had all shown shakiness, which could be a sign of substance abuse. The hospital workers also noted that Langwell had pill bottles, which she claimed were simply iron supplements.

A representative from Desert Regional Medical Center, where Langwell had given birth, expressed no regrets with the initiative they took in alerting child protection of their concerns.

"Desert Regional Medical Center takes very seriously its commitment to the health of mothers and infants in our care," Richard A. Ramhoff, the hospital's marketing director, told Cosmopolitan. "As mandated by state law, the hospital calls the County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services hotline when staff believe the situation warrants a referral. This reporting is not done lightly. Our staff reviews the details of each situation individually before fulfilling our responsibility to refer a case to child protective services for further review."

Langwell later learned that she had been reported as acting “hostile,” although the new mom said she can’t recall what she may have done to deserve this description.

"I never cussed anyone out or anything," explained the mother, who claimed she was simply sleep deprived and in pain.

Langwell, who was already a mother of two, had to wait a week before being reunited with her daughter and unfortunately her story is not alone.

“A disturbing trend in legal actions and policies is the criminalization of substance abuse during pregnancy," explained Sara Ainsworth, the director of legal advocacy for the group National Advocates for Pregnant Women to Cosmo.

Langwell’s incidence was most likely in response to what The Today Show has referred to as “an epidemic” of babies being born already addicted to drugs. A study from the University of Michigan Health System found that about one baby born each hour in the U.S. is addicted to some form of opiate drugs.

"Although our study was not able to distinguish the exact opiate used during pregnancy, we do know that the overall use of this class of drugs grew by 5-fold over the last decade and this appears to correspond with much higher rates of withdrawal in their infants," explained lead researcher Dr. Stephen W. Patrick in a press release.

Langwell still receives monthly checks from Child Protection and isn’t sure how much longer these will last. Although Langwell’s case ended in the happy reunion of mother and daughter, Jennie Pettet, assistant director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, told Cosmopolitan that 98 percent of the time this isn’t the case due to evidence provided.

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