I wish stories like these never needed to be reported. It’s tragic enough to lose a child- especially one so young- but when it comes from an earnest, if horrifically misguided to save their lives, it becomes more heart wrenching.
Others may not be able to empathize with Natalie Russell. They will spit words like “bad mother” and “murderer” at her, when just 24 hours ago they never even knew her name or her story. With such a sensitive subject, it’s understandable- but take a moment to look beyond the sensationalized news story.
For 7 years, 30 year old Natalie Russell struggled with meth addiction. Due to her troubles with substance abuse, the Department of Children Services intervened on multiple occurrences before finally removing her young daughter, Adalynn Russell, from her custody and placing her with a family member.
Through unspecified means, Natalie regained custody of Adalynn… just four months before the two year old died.
On April 14th, the toddler accidentally ingested her mother’s methadone, a powerful opioid medication used to treat narcotic drug addictions. However, it’s powerful nature makes it extremely easy to cause an overdose. In a child under two years old, the effects of a full dosage would be devastating.
Panicked and in fear of the legal ramifications, Natalie neglected to contact emergency responders for assistance. Instead she turned to the internet, researching how to counteract the effects of methadone overdose. Unfortunately, the terrible advice she received led her to inject methamphetamine into her child in an attempt to save her life.
When officials were finally called to the scene, Adalynne was unresponsive. Despite their best efforts, she died at the scene, just months short of her second birthday.
The young girl died of a combined methamphetamine and methadone overdose.
Now Natalie Russell is in police custody facing charges of first degree murder and child abuse.
Family members are now questioning why she was allowed custody of the baby girl without stricter requirements or better follow-up protocols. An aunt of Adalynn commented, “you need to be more thorough.”
While I am in no way exonerating Natalie Russell of her responsibility, this is such a horrific example of why we so desperately need to completely overhaul the drug laws in this country. This and countless other preventable deaths are caused solely out of fear of the legal and social consequences associated with drug abuse and drug charges. Mothers with substance abuse disorders require greater support and attention to remain on the sober path and be the best parent they can be. To save children and protect families, we have to do better.