We got to spend Saturday with our niece Ana. She’s another miracle baby but for different reasons. Her mama is Hubby’s older sister. She has issues. Sis is an alcoholic has been for many many years. She is also a drug user. She was in her early 40s when she got pregnant with Ana – in fact didn’t know she was pregnant until she was over 6 months along. She thought it was menopause or her Hepatitis C causing her problems. She had Ana almost two months early – about a month after she found out she was pregnant. Of course she drank heavily throughout her pregnancy – even after she found out she was pregnant. At that time she lived in Florida. The family didn’t find out about Ana until sis called their parents b/c she was in labor. She hadn’t realized it was labor at first – and had done some crack to take the edge off the pain before deciding maybe she should go to the hospital.
Ana was taken away from her mother at birth b/c of the drug use. She would spend months in intensive care in the children’s hospital. Hubby’s parents rushed from Michigan to Florida to be with their first grandchild and daughter. Sis agreed to get help for her drug use and her alcoholism. She went into a program in Florida. When Ana was released from the hospital she went to live with her grandparents. Hubby and I offered to adopt Ana right away. We were about two years into our struggle to have children. Knowing the situation Ana was in broke my heart and made me furious. Here we were trying with everything we had to have a baby and Sis accidently gets pregnant and does everything she can to ignore the fact that she’s going to be a mother. As soon as Sis heard we wanted to adopt Ana she was furious – she all of a sudden became much more interested in her own recovery and in getting her daughter back. After about 6 months Sis had managed to get through both programs and was given permission to live in the same house as her daughter – but her parents had to remain because she was not allowed to actually raise her daughter. Eventually her probation time ended and she was allowed to become a mother to her daughter.
After talking to her for any amount of time we still felt that she wasn’t 100% recovered. At one point she even told hubby that all you have to do is tell the people what they want to hear and they go away.
Through all of this Ana has thrived. She had some issues at birth – lungs not fully developed and stomach surgery to correct a hole in her intestines – but over all she is a bright, beautiful, loving 5 year old. Her grandparents have continued to be a big part of her life – including moving her and sis to Michigan where they winter and supporting them. Ana’s dad is not part of her life – he has served time for selling drugs and refused to get any rehab when Ana was born. It is a miracle to see this little girl thriving in the world she knows.
Last month we found out beyond a doubt that Sis had not really changed. She had a grand mal seizure due to massive alcohol consumption and taking antidepressants. Her parents took her to the emergency room. The doctor there and later her family doctor told her she had to stop drinking because she had brain damage from the alcohol and her liver is beginning to fail. Ana was a witness to the seizure – once again a miracle. Ten minutes before the seizure they had been in the car. Sis was driving. See she’s been drinking so much for so long that her tolerance is unbelievable. Her parents didn’t realize she was drinking when she left the house. While sis was hospitalized her parents cleaned out the house – found alcohol bottles hidden everywhere. They dumped it all out, but sadly this weekend Hubby’s mom shared with me that Sis is still drinking – not as heavily or constant but they have come home to find her passed out drunk a couple of times in the past few weeks.
In it all the person being hurt the most is Ana. But it seems like no one is really thinking about her. Her grandparents won’t force Sis to get help or get out. At this point they are still planning to head back to Florida for the winter at the end of October. Ana and Sis will remain in Michigan by themselves. It breaks my heart to see all this go on and know that we would take Ana at the drop of a hat and love her and take care of her – but Sis won’t let that happen at all b/c she knows we want her – Sis is like a child with a toy. In some ways it seems like she only holds on to Ana because someone else wants her. In fact Sis has said some pretty hurtful things to hubby about the fact we struggle to have babies. As long as Hubby’s parents are in Michigan living with Sis and Ana hubby and I have no reason to called Child Protective Services. But you can believe that once his parents leave for Florida we will call at the first sign of trouble. In the meantime we continue to try to talk to his parents about making Sis get some help or staying to protect Ana.
Through it all we look at Ana and talk to Ana and know that she too is a miracle baby. That there are so many reasons she should not be here – should not be doing as well as she is – yet she continues to thrive. That beautiful little girl is proof that miracles do happen everyday.