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Making the decision to raise your grandchildren is an extremely personal and difficult choice. It’s a decision that will be life-changing, for years to come.
I have to be honest, I didn’t put much thought into it before agreeing to take my then 4-year-old grandson. The call came in asking me to take him and I said yes. I knew I couldn’t let him go to a stranger, and the home he had been in previously was very unhealthy mentally and physically.
Taking in the other two kids took a little bit of convincing. Our caseworker at CPS had been asking me to take them from the time I took the 4-year-old. I knew my granddaughter would be more than I could handle as she seemed to have some pretty serious mental illness already at age 10. I honestly didn’t want to take her. My older grandson, who was 14 at the time, had been raised by my mother in an environment with no rules, no boundaries, no consequences. I really didn’t want to take on the issues I knew would come up with him moving into a home with structure.
After five months of our caseworker asking me to take them, as well as my husband trying to convince me that it was going to be easier than I thought and it was the right thing to do, I agreed. I was promised all the support I needed with both kids. I received none.
Taking them resulted in my family disowning me as my mother’s pride led her to start lashing out and lying about why the children were removed from her home; something I hadn’t expected.
Get Clear on Your Choices
One thing I will recommend you do if faced with this decision is to get clear on your choices. This is a choice that will change your life in ways you can’t imagine.
I’ll often have conversations with grandparents who tell me they could never do what I’m doing. They always make sure to tell me that they believe I have a special calling from God or that I’m specially equipped for this job and they couldn’t do it.
Believe me, I’m not special or specially equipped. I’m just a grandmother like you. The decision to take in my grandchildren didn’t feel like a choice, it felt nothing more or less than necessary.
I felt the only options were to have them live with me, or send them to a complete stranger. That’s not much of a choice.
There are grandparents that chose to let another family raise them in hopes of continuing in their role of grandparent.
You have no idea what you are willing to do when you find out your own child has been deemed unsafe to raise your grandchildren. I absolutely had no desire to raise my grandchildren; I wanted to enjoy them, visit them, spoil them, and send them home!
I’ve been raising children for 33 years now; and honestly, I am so ready to be done! But faced with the choice to let them go to a stranger or love them into adulthood myself, I chose to raise them.
To be honest with you, I struggled horribly the entire first year I had all three kids. I had no babysitter, my husband was on the road constantly, and the two youngest children required three counseling visits per week each; not to mention any additional doctor visits, teacher visits, dental visits, etc. The remainder of my local family had disowned me for taking the children; and as I have worked from home since 1999 I also found myself with no friends, no one to give me a weekend off with my husband, a night out to dinner, no breaks whatsoever.
Find a Support Group
If you decide to move forward with taking your children, I urge you to find a support group right away!
I eventually joined a group for foster/adoptive/kindship providers in an effort to find people who truly understood what I was going through. One of the employees of this program had previously worked as a CPS worker locally. During one of the three meetings I attended, I shared my extreme struggle with the fact that I didn’t really WANT to raise my grandchildren, that I absolutely hated being their disciplinarian, and wished that I could just spoil them again.
To my absolute horror, instead of just trying to understand my fears, pain, and confusion, she told me she was close friends with our caseworker and that I didn’t have to do this. She said there are other foster homes they can be placed in, although they may not stay together. I was absolutely disgusted by the conversation and feared that she would tell our caseworker that they should be removed from us.
I just desperately needed someone to listen, someone who could understand, not someone to tell me to throw away my grandchildren. I needed someone to understand that although this was not the plan I had in mind for my life, I love these kids so deeply that I would do anything to keep them safe and make sure they stayed together. Although I didn’t WANT to, I was going to raise them and they would never know that I struggled with these feelings.
So friend, I completely understand how you feel; and that’s why I’m here. I know there are grandparents out there who are happy to raise their grandchildren. I have met some, and I’m happy for them. But there are also those of us who were taken by surprise that life has taken this turn.
I want you to know that you aren’t alone. The shame that you feel for not wanting to do it I now know is normal. We didn’t raise our children to walk away from the responsibility of their own children. To give up their lives for a substance. And God’s plan was not for us to raise children into our golden years.
Yes, I understand what you mean when you say you don’t want to do this… It’s not that you won’t, it’s not that you can’t. You will, and you will be successful. By the grace of God, your grandchildren and mine will never know the internal struggle we had to face to give that many more years to raising children.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation, raising grandchildren or children of a relative? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or contact me on social media or email!