Early On intervention helps give baby a brighter future

Pamela with her husband, Stan, and grandson, Jackson.

Pamela with her husband, Stan, and grandson, Jackson.

Pamela's plans for a quiet life of retirement with her husband abruptly changed three years ago when her daughter gave birth to a baby boy.

Pamela knew something was wrong instantly when her 29-year-old daughter refused to let her see the infant, named Jackson, who was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at an area hospital.

Finally, eight days after her grandson's birth, Pamela found out some shocking news - the baby was born addicted to drugs and would be taken away from her daughter.  Unbeknownst to Pamela, her daughter was addicted to heroin and cocaine and so was the baby. He was given morphine to counter the effects of his withdrawal, which included extreme crying and persistent tremors. 

"He was going to be placed in the system, and my husband and I knew that we had to take this baby," said Pamela. "We had to fight desperately for Jackson."

The couple became foster parents, taking Jackson into their home. Right from the beginning it was tough. Their grandson was intensely uncomfortable as he went through the long process of withdrawal, and nothing seemed to calm him. He only slept five hours on a good day, constantly screamed and still tremored and had eczema, which caused itching all over his body. Tired and desperate, Pamela and Stan didn't know what to do. Fortunately, they called Oakland Family Services Early On.

Life began to change then for the couple and their grandson. Early On Service Coordinator Consuelo Carrillo began regular home visits, helping Jackson with his sleep problems, and speech and sensory issues. 

Carrillo's visits also helped Pamela. 

"Consuelo was compassionate and I was able to cry my eyes out to her," Pamela said. "I hadn't been a parent to a newborn in 30 years and Consuelo helped give me confidence. She was a breath of fresh air and was on my side. I never felt alone."

Early On also provided the family with playgroups and helpful classes on a variety of topics, such as temper tantrums, speech, and potty training.

Pamela and her husband eventually were able to adopt their grandson.

"Before Oakland Family Services, my husband Stan and I felt totally lost," she said. "It would have been devastating had we not had the assistance of Oakland Family Services Early On because I didn't know how to help a baby overcome exposure to drugs.

"This early intervention through Oakland Family Services did more for him than I think we will ever know. His future is now open to anything. Our sweet little boy is going to become an incredible man, and I am so thankful to have found Oakland Family Services."