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Opioid Crisis Spiking Cases of Babies Born Drug Dependent, Knoxville Adoption Agency Says

Knoxville — Not sleeping, digestive problems, developmental disabilities all yet another set of symptoms of the opioid epidemic.

Local adoption agencies say they are seeing more children in the foster care system, and they're blaming the opioid crisis.

These children face a new set of challenges.

"As you can tell, they're a little hyper right now. We are on day 15 with no sleep," Mary Fromer said.

4-year-old Christopher Fromer and his brothers, 3-year-old Israel and 8-year-old Isaiah, were all born drug dependent.

10News featured the Fromer family almost a year ago.

MORE | Children born drug dependent continue to struggle after detox

"This is worth it," Fromer said.

Fromer told us then, she knew the challenges she was taking on with adoption.

"They are on all kinds of medication," Fromer said.

There are endless doctor's visits, surgeries and therapy.

"They have brain damage," Fromer said. "The frontal lobes of the brain are what's affected the most by opioid use, which affects learning, anger and aggression, panic and anxiety."

And adoption agencies in East Tennessee are seeing kids like Fromer's more and more.

"The past three to four years, we've seen like a 30 percent increase in those clients coming to us, who are struggling with opiate addiction," Lauren Wilson said.

Wilson is the Bethany Christian Services of East Tennessee Branch Director.

She says there were about 800 children in foster care in Knox County last year.

This year, it's grown to nearly 1,200.

"A majority of those children in care right now, were either born addicted to opiates, or in a home where there's drug use happening," Wilson said.

She says Bethany has added drug dependent child training for their families.

"We just try to train our families know this child is no different than any other child born. This child just needs this much extra," Wilson said.

Fromer says parents need to be ready.

"The goal here is to just give them the best life that they can have," Fromer said.

Wilson says everyone has to work together, because this problem isn't going away any time soon.

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