200th healthy baby born at Louisville rehabilitation center for addicted mothers

By Gilbert Corsey

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A healthy, 6-pound baby was born in Louisville last week, and the birth marked a milestone and a success in the fight against addiction.

Julian was the 200th healthy baby born at the Freedom House, a program from the Volunteers of America Mid States that dates back to 1993.

"Coming here was probably the best decision I ever made," said Veronica, Julian's mother, who asked to only use her first name. "Because if I didn't, I would be out there getting high, and I wouldn't have cared."

The home near Second and Kentucky Streets provides addicted mothers a safe place to clean up, rehab and restart while staying with their newborn child.

"We've been doing this work for a long time, and often what we see in the headline is the negative side of addiction," said Jennifer Hancock, president and CEO of Volunteers of America. "But what we see every day is what is possible."

Veronica said she's eight months sober. An addiction that started with weed at 14 turned to heroin and then meth at 27.

"I'm working on getting my other two [children] back, but it takes time," she said. "You don't become an addict overnight, and you don't get sober overnight."

The opioid epidemic created a surge in babies born addicted and a bigger need for programs like Freedom House.

"We work with them to not only become clean and sober parents, but we look at this holistically," Hancock said. "We know they need help re-entering the work force or returning to school. We know they need assistance with transitional housing. All of those are key components to long-term success.

Leaders are planning to expand with new facilities in Manchester, Ky., and Jeffersonville, Ind.

"I'm glad that he's healthy, the healthy 200th baby in this house," Veronica said. "Because that don't happen often."

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recently gave the Volunteers of America Freedom House program a certification for its level of care. It's one of only seven facilities in the country to earn the top honor.

Click here to watch the full story.