IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. -- A judge in our area is raising the red flag after seeing more and more cases in her courtroom where kids are being put in the foster care system because their parents are on drugs.

Tiffany and Tommy Karicker were empty nesters for just a few months when DSS called.

Tiffany told us, “They told me they were taking him and I said what papers do I sign?”

Their grandson Damian – was born addicted to drugs.

Tommy remembers, “He would sit there and shake all the time – heartbreaking.”

His mom now in jail. His dad, they say also on drugs, unable to care for him.

“I wanted to choke him, put a bullet in him," Tommy says.

His grandparents fought for a year to be little Damian's official guardian.

“We didn't know if he was going to make it or not.”

It's a story Iredell County Judge Deborah Brown has been seeing more and more over the last three years.

“Opioids are a tremendous problem – so many children born addicted to drugs,” Brown said.

Their parents in no condition to raise a child.

In Iredell county alone, almost half the kids in DSS custody are there because they're parents are on drugs.

“You would think if given the choice, we'll give you child back if you get off drugs," she says. "But they don't. It’s very frustrating.”

Damian's grandparents are hoping their son will eventually get well enough to again be a father to his son.

“I hope, but I’m not sure,” they say.

There are hundreds of grandparents in Iredell County alone that have become guardian to their grandchildren. There's actually a shortage of people acting as guardian ad items - the people that give a voice to kids in these cases. If you want to help, we'll have information on our website.

If you’d like more information on how to get involved, check out: