TV Reporter Who Used Cocaine & Then Breastfed Needs Help – Not Jail

Even the most hard-core "breast is best" advocates would agree that that rule doesn't apply if you're doing cocaine. But apparently, Krystin and Somchai Lisaius, two Tucson TV reporters, didn't get the memo. And now they face charges after their 4-month-old infant tested positive for cocaine.

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On Sunday, May 15, the couple brought their baby girl to the Oro Valley Hospital outside of Tucson, saying that she just "became limp" and "wabbly," according to Tucson cops.

So naturally, the folks at the hospital wanted to start running all sorts of tests, including a blood test. But the parents wouldn't allow it. The couple tried to leave with the baby, but were convinced to allow the baby to be taken by ambulance to the University Medical Center a few miles away. Once there, the couple refused toxicology testing on the baby again.

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Later, after several denials, the mom admitted to using cocaine the day before and then breastfeeding. She did blow with her husband and some friend of theirs named Thomas, who is also the baby's godfather, at a barbecue at their home. See, she figured that since 12 hours had passed, she was cool to breastfeed her tiny baby.

She was wrong. Toxicology tests came back showing the baby's hair tested positive for cocaine.

The police then searched their home in the upscale Tucson suburb of Oro Valley and found cocaine in the family's house, including several baggies and a small digital scale. There was even reportedly a Tiffany & Co. jewelry box containing cocaine residue and a rolled-up dollar bill. Fancy.

The whole thing is just so awful.

And while the couple's lawyer is trying to chalk the whole incident up to a "hard embarrassing lesson" and a "footnote in their life, not a chapter," as Tucson News Now reported, the presence of several baggies and a scale (noted in the incident report) indicates the couple's cocaine use is probably much more than a one-time reckless act. They need treatment.

Now the two local hotshots, who pleaded not guilty on June 27, are in deep trouble. Somchai was canned from his job as a TV reporter and the two have been indicted on drug and child abuse charges. Worst of all, they've lost their baby girl, who is being cared for by her grandmother, but in the custody of the Department of Child Safety -- meaning CPS can take her away at any time.

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Now, I'm not arguing these two didn't act like dirtbags and endanger their baby's life. They did. I'm not saying their high jinks weren't totally irresponsible and stupid. They were. But taking their 4-month-old baby away would be a huge mistake.

I've been a foster mother, in Arizona in fact, and I can tell you from experience that taking a child away from his or her parents is a huge deal and should only be done as a very last resort.

These two don't appear to be pathological violent criminals or child abusers; they appear to have a drug problem. A problem that I would guess is something Krystin was trying to control by convincing herself that a 12-hour wait period after doing cocaine was sufficient enough before breastfeeding her baby. She was probably trying, in her own confused state of mind, to figure out a way she could protect her daughter. Unfortunately, her calculation was way off.

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So sure, they both deserve to be punished for their drug shenanigans. But it's my hope that law enforcement and child welfare advocates can find a way to help them keep their broken little family together.

Kids need their parents, even if they aren't perfect. The foster care system is overloaded and underfunded, particularly in Arizona. And we can't pretend a dug problem can't be treated, and that people aren't capable of turning things around. Because they are.

Let's take the money that would be spent on jail time and custody hearings and instead get these two into rehab, stat. I've seen how dysfunctional the foster care system is firsthand, and keeping families together should always be the goal.

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These two made a terrible mistake, and they should be punished. But it's my hope that everyone involved will do their level best to make sure they get the help they need to be better parents. And I can only imagine being separated from their tiny infant would be all the motivation these two need to get it together. Let's give them a chance to prove they can.

And the same goes for so many parents struggling with addiction who face jail instead of getting the help they need to be better parents. They all deserve a chance to get, and be, better.

And for the record, breastfeeding while being an active cocaine user is a terrible, terrible idea.

 

Image via Lisa Guerrero/Twitter

 

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