‘They’re My Safe Place’: Children of Addicted Parents, Raised by Relatives

Hannah Thurman, 17, and James Thurman, 15, have lived with their aunt Christina Burns for several years because their mother is addicted to opioids. “I didn’t have a childhood,” Hannah said. Photographs by Alyssa Schukar

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Hannah Thurman’s new life began with her father’s murder.

She was 9, a scared girl who had often shielded her brothers while their parents violently fought, who had contemplated suicide in the fourth grade, who had spent many summers locked outside her family’s trailer while her parents got high.

After her father’s death, and as her mother spiraled deeper into an opioid addiction, her aunt and uncle took in her and her brothers.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Hannah, sitting at a kitchen table with reindeer-themed place mats.