By Christine Rousselle
Husband and wife took in the teen because his wife knew her, Redditor said
(MAINNEWS) – Reddit users sided with a man who removed a foster teen from his home after the teenager stole cough medicine meant for the family’s younger child — and used it to get high.
On Feb. 9, Redditor “RogueStarfighter” asked users of the r/AmITheA—–e subreddit to weigh in on his situation in a post titled, “AITA for getting rid of our foster kid after she stole medicine from our sick daughter.”
RogueStarfighter explained that his wife learned that a 14-year-old girl whom she knew was in need of a home, and the couple agreed to take her in.
“We are not foster parents. We did this for a child my wife knew,” he said, trying to clarify the situation for others.
“She’s 14, has some behavioral issues and had mild drug use,” he also wrote. “We decided to take her in since my wife knew her a bit and thought she was a decent kid who just needed a chance.”
RogueStarfighter went on to say that “the placement had its issues” and that the teen had repeatedly smoked marijuana in their house despite being told this was not permitted.
“Over five months, we had good and bad times, but overall it was working,” he said.
That changed after an incident involving stolen cough medicine that was prescribed for RogueStarfighter’s young daughter.
“We also have a five-year-old daughter who got COVID at the end of last year and has had a chronic cough ever since,” he wrote, explaining that “she is on a medication for the cough so [that] she can sleep at night and for when her coughing fits get bad.”
“The [teenager] had friends over and they smoked [marijuana] again.”
He continued, “Sometimes it sounds like she is gasping for air. It’s hard to watch her suffer through this.”
The situation with the teenager living with them, however, took a more serious turn.
“The [teen] had friends over and they smoked [marijuana] again,” the Redditor said. “We had planned on talking to her about it after school today.”
He continued, “We woke up this morning and the [five-year-old] starts coughing. We look for her medicine and we can’t find it,” he wrote.
After they drove the teenage girl to school, he said he and his wife discovered the bottle of cough syrup in her room.
“It’s not empty, so we don’t freak out. I go to work,” he wrote, detailing their steps.
“It’s almost universal that you don’t mess with sick kids.”
His wife later discovered that while the initial bottle wasn’t empty, “the cough medicine she found in the foster’s room is actually Sprite. The foster dumped it all into a Sprite bottle and drank it with her friends for a cheap buzz.”
“Don’t know why she filled the medicine bottle back up with Sprite, but whatever,” he wrote.
After learning that the teenager had stolen the medicine, “I freaked and had her removed immediately,” wrote RogueStarfighter.
“You can disobey me, you can lie to me, you can steal from me. Once you take from my kid, there is no coming back from that,” he said, explaining his actions.
“The fact that she lived across the hall from my daughter and listened to her coughing all day and night and still had the lack of humanity that she felt OK taking her medicine is sickening and represents a depravity I was not prepared for,” RogueStarfighter wrote.
He added, “It’s almost universal that you don’t mess with sick kids.”
In follow-up edits to his post, RogueStarfighter said that he normally locked up all medicine and alcohol, but “we were careless and left it out this time.”
“We honestly didn’t think it was a target; she [the foster teen] had only ever smoked weed before,” he said.
“I never knew she did other drugs. I didn’t really consider children’s cough medicine to be a target.”
Additionally, RogueStarfighter said that he and his wife were not properly informed of the teen’s substance abuse issues — saying that they were told the teen had “one marijuana incident” in her past.
RogueStarfighter said he also smoked marijuana as a teen — so he and his wife thought they could handle that.
“I never knew she did other drugs. I didn’t really consider children’s cough medicine to be a target. It was a mistake,” he said.
RogueStarfighter further stated that he and his wife are “not looking to foster any other kids” and were “just trying to help one.”
He added, “We were not prepared for this and are going to focus on our own daughter now.”
News reached out to RogueStarfighter for comment.
Gary Anderson, a professor of social work at Michigan State University in East Lansing, told News that he believed the parents were in the right to remove the teen from their home.
“The need to protect one’s young and vulnerable child is paramount,” Anderson said. “I can identify with the sense of accepting a certain amount of mistreatment directed toward oneself, but then [there is] the need and impulse to protect one’s vulnerable child.”
“I feel sad for your family and this poor girl.”
Anderson did not fault the couple for not trying to work things out after the teen stole medicine, saying that the decision rests in part on what the couple learned in the past five months regarding whether the teen could and would change her behavior.
“Plus, substance abuse is a more troubling dynamic that undermines rational thought (already pretty precarious with a 14-year-old!),” he said.
Anderson suggested that “a competent foster care/social worker could be a big help” in this situation, but did not fault the parents for moving to protect their younger child.
“The parent was unprepared for such behavior and acted quickly to protect his child,” he said, “but [they] may have been able to work it out with the support of a social worker — particularly as the parent noted some progress in the relationship.”
On the AITA subreddit, Redditors can reply to posts saying that the poster is “NTA” (“Not the A—–e), “YTA” (“You’re the A—–e”), “NAH” (“No A—–e Here”) or “ESH” (“Everyone Sucks Here”).
Users can “upvote” responses they think are helpful and “downvote” ones that are not.
The majority of Redditors who replied to the post acknowledged that although the situation was tough, ultimately RogueStarfighter did not act unreasonably.
“NTA,” wrote Reddit user “freudian_baby” in the top-upvoted comment.
“You are in a tough spot, and my heart goes out to you, truly, for trying to help a young person carry a little less weight on their shoulders.”
“I feel sad for your family and this poor girl,” the commenter said. “Life is tough and she’s clearly been dealt a bad hand. But you’re not the [a—–e] for protecting your child while trying to help another,” the person added.
A Reddit user who claims to have been a former foster child also sided with the original Reddit poster.
“NTA. The world is a really hard place when you have to learn from your mistakes in real time, without unconditional love and parental support,” wrote user “ReindeerCareless4046.”
Another Redditor, ReindeerCareless4046, described himself or herself (gender not specified) as a “former foster kid and substance user during my time in the system, where I was removed from multiple homes for using around young children.”
This commenter said, “Protecting your child is first and foremost your job. It sucks, because your former foster child deserves that same protection,” wrote the person.
“Parents of all varieties make mistakes, doesn’t make them all (a—–es).”
“You are in a tough spot, and my heart goes out to you, truly, for trying to help a young person carry a little less weight on their shoulders,” the person said, adding a hope that the teen is able to get professional help.
Another Reddit user, claiming to be a former foster parent of teens, also agreed that RogueStarfighter was in the right.
“I was a foster parent of teens for years, only after my kids moved out for that very reason,” the commenter said. “
You have to protect your kids. If your youngest was a foster child, too, you’d still have to do the same thing,” said user “nope-111.”
Redditor “Nope-111” also defended RogueStarfighter for leaving out the cough medicine, saying that “parents of all varieties make mistakes, doesn’t make them all [a—–es].”
“But let’s say you did lock it up?” the commenter continued.
“Barring [placing the medication in] a safe, a determined teen can still get to it. I’ve had foster children pick locks and break doors to get [what] they wanted.”