I have heard that the sins of the father are what the son has to pay. This got me wondering, as former addicts, how many of our past transgressions are inherited by our children?
When my husband and I found out that our second child was going to be a boy, I asked him if he wanted him to be Jr. He emphatically stated, “Absolutely not!” He was worried about when our son is a young adult and gets pulled over for something stupid; speeding, not using a turn signal, tail light out, and gave his name to the police. Especially if he doesn’t say the junior, as many juniors do, and they pull up my husbands name. He didn’t want our son to automatically go through the harassment that someone with a criminal record goes through. It doesn’t matter how old or petty your past crimes were, the policy automatically treat you as if you are doing something wrong. I have been followed from the grocery store less than two mikes from my house, to my home, which was the registered address of the vehicle. My husband I have been asked what the fuck we are doing “around here” three miles from home, on a major highway, one mile from the exit for our street. And the backup. You would think we were Bonnie and Clyde. As soon as our records come back, there is at least three to four cars of backup, usually more. Mind you, neither of us have ANY felony convictions at all. My last arrest is from 2006. That is eight years old!
We wanted our son to at least have a chance of maybe being treated like a human being. So neither of our kids share our first names, and our last name is somewhat common.
How long, though, can you hide your pasts from your kids? And should you? I don’t know.
I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter while I was in active addiction. You can not quite heroin when pregnant because there is a great chance that the withdraws will kill the fetus. Opiate addicted pregnant women are faced with two options. One is go on methadone maintenance. This reduces the risk of the mother relapsing and the baby being born with illicit drugs in it’s system. Since the mother is prescribed the methadone, social services will not take the child. The down side is that more than likely the baby is born going through withdraws. They have to endure a long stay in the hospital where they are given opiate drops to ween them off. I have seen this personally, and it is hard for everyone involved.
I didn’t want to risk the withdraws, so I chose the other option. I went to an inpatient program at John’s Hopkins Hospital called the Center for Addiction and a Pregnancy or CAP for short. I did an eight day inpatient where I was detoxed off of heroin with methadone under the close supervision of doctors and nurses. Following the very strict inpatient stay, you are required to attend the program as an out patient. You go eight hours a day for 28 days straight. Yes, that’s seven days a week – even Sundays. Once you complete that, which is level one – you go six days a week (no Sundays) for 28 days, and so on until you deliver.
The inpatient is just one small ward on the hospital campus and can only take maybe 30 women at a time. There is a wait list. While on the wait list, I was still using because abruptly ceasing use can very easily kill the fetus, as I stated previously. During that period I was arrested in the city.
So here in lies my quandary. I want at all costs to hide this information from my daughter. She was an unplanned pregnancy from when I was a girl at the age of twenty in the height of my active addiction. This is in complete paradox with my son. He was planned, and I was clean when I was trying to get pregnant, thus clean during my entire pregnancy.
My daughter was born completely clean, as neither she nor I had an drugs, illicit or otherwise, in our systems at the time of her birth – which was three weeks early. But there is public record of the arrest. If she ever goes fishing on the state’s public criminal database, and does the math on the date of that arrest, she will be able to piece together that I was pregnant with her at that time.
While I want to hide from her that I was using when I got pregnant, what if she discovers the arrest? Then there is sort of double the betrayal because I lied about it. I don’t ever want her to feel that we love her brother more because he was planned.
If we do tell her, how old should she be? Will she take heed to our stories as warnings to stay away from drugs or will she look at us as hypocrites when we tell her to stay away from drugs?
Both of my kids hate police already and have from a young age because they have see the way the people they love are treated by police for even a small traffic violation. Actually, they are terrified of police. They have seen their Daddy get arrested at home, by police.
What else have we passed on? They are still young, eight and five, and my husband and I have both been totally clean for about two years, and out of active addiction for almost a year before that. We were clean from when my daughter was about 13 months old till when she was about three and a half before we started to slip. They have seen too much of their parents as active addicts. They are my primary reason to stay, as they say, on the straight and narrow.
I know that seeing drugs and addiction everyday as a child turns into anything else that you see everyday. It normalizes it. Similar to kids who grow up with mother’s who have eating disorders tend to grow up with eating disorders as well.
But how much damage has already been done? If they are told about our past will they turn out like us? That is my greatest fear. As parents we always want better for our kids than what we had. You automatically want your children to have a better life than you have.
Do we pass our sins to our children for them to be forced to serve out the sentences? I most certainly hope not, and I work daily to pay penance so that my kids don’t have to.