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After Birth-Mother Abused Drugs, California Teen Hopes To Change Law

By: Sandra Hughes - CBS
By: Sandra Hughes - CBS

A California teenager has overcome many obstacles throughout his life and has never let anything prevent him from doing what he wants to do.

Now the 16-year old sophomore is proposing a law that would hopefully prevent others from going through what he has gone through.

It's a typical teenager's morning routine, but RJ Feild, a sophomore in Riverside County, is anything but a typical teenager everything about school is a struggle for RJ. He can barely read because his vision is so terrible. Only one hand works well, and walking is a major ordeal.

“When you make new friends, do they ask you ‘Were you born like this?’” asks CBS’ Sandra Hughes.

“Yea, which I'm fine with it. It's part of life. Like all my other struggles. I tell them that my mom did drugs and she made me have to be born this way,” says RJ Feild.

He was born addicted to heroin with meth, alcohol, and cocaine in his system. Months premature, he weighed only two pounds. His birth-mother, who was living on public assistance, abandoned him at the hospital. No one expected him to survive, but then again, surprising folks is what RJ does best.

Now 16, he just won an essay contest sponsored by California legislator John Benoit called "There Ought To Be A Law"

This is what RJ is proposing: all welfare recipients would be randomly tested for drugs. If they test positive they'd be offered help, but if they refuse to enter drug rehab, they would lose their benefits.

It is not just about the human cost, says RJ, but the cost to taxpayers as well. The school district provides a full time aide and special P.E. teacher. His medical bills are well into the millions.

At a Republican ladies luncheon, RJ campaigned to turn his idea into a real law.

“ What it's for is to stop other kids turning out like I did,” says RJ.

“Why should there be a law, RJ?” asks Hughes.

“So that we can clean up the people and get babies so they don't turn out like I did, they don't have to go through what I went through, or what I'm going through,” explains RJ.

RJ's P.E. teacher is the same teacher who taught him how to walk, way back in kindergarten.

He's had nothing but encouragement from the foster parents who raised him.

”We've never told him there's something you can't do. We'd say you can do it. Just figure out a way,” says RJ’s guardian Mary Beth Feild.

…like earning a varsity letter in football for assisting coach Peter McGowan.

“He has a great attitude. He's a survivor, he's a warrior,” says McGowan.

“You don't let much hold you back, do you?” asks Hughes

“No. Not a whole lot.” says RJ.

RJ heads to Sacramento this week to introduce his bill to the California legislature. He knows that turning his idea into RJ's law will be an uphill battle but RJ's not worried. He's already conquered mountains.


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