The opioid crisis reached a grim milestone during the heaviest months of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100,000 people died from overdoses, a record number that has touched families and communities across the country.
Historically, one of the hardest hit areas has been Blue Creek, Ohio, where Jesus and Suzanne Valle lived and raised their family for two decades. It eventually hit close to home, when Suzanne’s brother and sister-in-law started struggling with drug addiction.
When it became clear to the Valles that their four nieces and nephews would go into the foster care system, they stepped in and filed for custody. They eventually adopted the kids, as well as two more children from the larger community.
Jesus and Suzanne with their adopted children in Art Van Atta Park, OH, July of 2021. (Courtesy of the Valle family)
In 2017, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on their decision to take in more kids, and how they’ve found purpose and happiness in their bustling household.
Top Photo: Jesus and Suzanne Valle at their StoryCorps interview in Blue Creek, OH, on August 13, 2017. By Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.
Originally aired December 17, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.