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The smoking-while-pregnant part is bothering me the most at the moment, but the whole situation sounds terrible. If there's no food and no electricity when the baby is born, Dawn's mom & near-step-dad shouldn't have trouble taking custody of the baby. It would really have nothing to do with what Dawn wants once social services gets involved. Technically, I could take custody of my little brother & sister (I've thought about it), and they don't suffer from any kind of neglect. My parents are just poor as heck and there isn't always food for a while at a time. I love to visit, but I also almost always take someone there out to eat, or bring over food, or something when I go by. My little bro and sis are old enough to work now, though, so there's not as much to worry about. They can fend for themselves.

Just try to remember it's not the baby's fault that his/her parents are so irresponsible. If her life doesn't change, it would probably be best to get the child out of there. Personally, I'd help Dawn until she gave birth, just so the child would have a fighting chance by having a well-nourished mother. But I'd make it clear that the minute she got to the hospital, I would only help the baby, not her, and only if the living situation changed or the baby wasn't living with them.

What a mess.

Aj'smommy -- your parents sound like wonderful people to take in so many children who need them. It's infuriating that most (according to my health book) birth defects are 100% preventable since they are due to the mother's drinking, smoking, drug use, or other bad habits. I don't know if anything else makes me so angry as not giving a baby a fighting chance in the world.
 
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