'My newborn baby tested positive for cocaine'

Kayla Britton, 28, hasn’t lived an easy life.

In 1996, she lost her younger brother in a freak at-home accident.

She was 6. He was just 4.

After that, her parents split up, as the tragedy of losing their son proved too heavy a burden for their marriage to endure.

“My mom was at school, and my dad was watching us,” Kayla says. “My dad blamed my mom, and my mom blamed my dad. They couldn’t stand each other after that.

The Logansport, Indiana, family was broken – and they slowly tried to rebuild pieces that never fully came back together.

To this day, Kayla and her mother remain close – best friends, as she describes.

Her father remarried in 2001, and as a teenager, Kayla didn’t always see eye to eye with her stepmother.

But life went on, and everyone fought to find a “new normal.”

Being a mom is all I wanted

Kayla grew up with dreams of having a big family of her own.

“Being a mom is all I ever wanted in life,” she says. “I used to want seven kids. I never envisioned working outside the home. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, live in a comfortable house and be with my kids until they went to school, then become a kindergarten teacher.”

On Feb. 22, 2010, part of that vision became reality when she welcomed her daughter, Zakaia, into the world. Although she and the baby’s father had parted ways, it was a joyous time, and she soaked up every second of motherhood.

Kayla was working as a child-care provider and settling into life as a new mom. Just when things began settling down, she found herself facing a shocking, but welcome, surprise.

She was pregnant again, and on Nov. 16, 2011, gave birth to her son, Grayson.

Although it wasn’t easy being a single mother, she never took a second for granted.

“My favorite part about being a mom is the look in their eyes when they tell you they love you,” Kayla says. “It melts your heart … the feeling of them giving you a hug. It’s not replaceable.”

The next few years were filled with incredible highs and some horrible lows. Things started looking up, however, in June 2015, when she met her boyfriend, Michael Medaris.

“Life was nice,” she says. “It was a fresh start, everything was great. We ended up moving out of Logansport to get away and moved near my mother in LaPorte County.”

Kayla and Michael were ready to settle down.

On Jan. 19, they found out they were expecting a baby.

'It felt like my life came to an end'

At 38 weeks, Kayla’s water broke, and on Sept. 11, she delivered her daughter, Zaylianna. The labor was long and tedious, but holding her baby girl was well worth the pain.

“The nurses were great,” she says. “Everything was wonderful. It was a very personal experience, and things were perfect.”

Until the next day, when her world was shaken in a way she never could have imagined.

“That’s when the social worker came in,” Kayla says. “That morning, it felt like my life came to an end.”

They began a discussion about postpartum depression, which didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

“Then she started talking about my drug screen,” Kayla recalls. “ ‘Yours was clean,’ she said, ‘but we also tested your baby, and your baby tested positive for cocaine.’  I told her that wasn’t possible. I have never done cocaine in my life, and demanded a retest for the both of us.”

About 30 minutes later, Kayla’s midwife ordered a retest. Both came back negative for cocaine, but the switch, in theory, had already been flipped.

Later that day, the Department of Child and Family Services got involved, and they came to the hospital, along with the police department.

“They said they were detaining my baby to the nursery since she couldn’t be released from the hospital yet,” Kayla says. “She had to be fully supervised by a nurse the whole time.”

The following day, an emergency detention hearing was held, and the judge backed up the decision to keep Zaylianna detained until further tests were conducted.

It was then Kayla was told to get a lawyer.

'Willing to do anything'

After being released from the hospital, Kayla’s father and stepmother were granted temporary custody of Zaylianna, with the stipulation that she get one hour a day with her daughter on week days.

“We were willing to do anything,” Kayla says. “We would have had someone stay with us, have them come for wellness checks – anything.”

After returning to court, it was determined that Zaylianna could return to her mother once her meconium (first stool) was tested for drugs.

Two weeks later, Kayla got her baby back – but no answers.

“We will never know why the baby got a false positive,” she says.  “There was not enough in the original specimen to be retested.”

The last month has been brutal, to say the least, and Kayla is ready to leave it in the past while focusing on the future.

“I still have hope in my initial dream of having that family, that life,” she says. “You have to be persistent, you have to fight back. You have to fight with everything you have in you.”

(© 2016 WWL)


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