Grandparents are filling the void in Akron as the city's opioid epidemic leaves children alone

Posted at 11:31 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 23:35:32-04

Ohio’s opioid epidemic hit Akron with a force that left the city stunned. Statewide, according to Beech Brook, an adoption and behavioral agency, thousands of children are now in foster care or are living with relatives.

Among the relatives who are stepping in to fill the void, are grandparents.

“I’m 54," said Brenda Ryan, founder of Keys to Serenity. "I’ll be 54 in August. I don’t have the stamina anymore. I not only mourn for my daughter, but I mourn for my grandson.”

RELATED: Opioid epidemic forcing more Ohio kids in foster care

Ryan's daughter, Sheena Moore, died from a fentanyl overdose in June. Ryan now shares custody of the 6-year-old son Sheena left behind, with the child’s fraternal grandfather.

“It was like he and I were married, had this child together, got divorced, and were raising this child together,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know I was going to have to do this, I was never prepared for this. My husband retired a year ago. I’m my grandson’s classroom; there are three other kids that are being raised by their grandparents.”

Derrick Sales pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for selling drugs to Sheena. For his crime, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

He offered this to Sheena’s family: “I want to send a sincere apology to the loved ones, family, friends of Sheena,” Sales said.

MORE: Grandparents, caretaker relatives of opioid orphans pushing for more support from the state

Thrift store sales out of New Beginnings, from donations, help fund Brenda’s effort to rescue addicts.

“The government doesn’t know what to do with the epidemic, how do we know what to do with this epidemic,” asked Ryan. “I question whether this war can ever be won.”