You’ll feel the collective sadness, anger, hope, and “we can do this” attitudes that co-exist when grandparents raising grandkids get together.
Every relative caregiver, whether forty or eighty, lives a Just Do It life. ‘It’ being restoring childhoods and securing futures for grandchildren whose parents are addicted to opioids, other drugs, or alcohol. ‘It’ being parenting temporarily, or permanently, infants, tweens and teens whose moms or dads are on military deployments, incarcerated, deceased or are just very young.
Sometimes these family warriors need help. By uniting in the capitol’s plaza, and meeting one-on-one with Senators and Representatives from their own states, or by sharing their stories the grandparents want to focus attention on foster care and other federal funding and policies.
They aren’t asking for more money, they are asking for system efficiencies and equal access for grandparents in or out of the system. Many need legal help to obtain custody, guardianship or adoption to help with school enrollment, access to medical care and/or counseling for traumatized or vulnerable youth.
They want a hand up, not hand out. Independence and dignity is important to them.
I understand. I am one of them. I adopted my oldest grandson, Chad, who was physically abused as a toddler and diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) when four. Chad is now twenty-five and successfully launched; we’re both out of the trenches paying forward.
Together, we wrote the book Raising Children of Alcoholics & Drug Users to help others, whether they are dealing with visitations when grandkids cry before they go, or punch holes in walls when they return, have trouble saying “no” to their adult child, or are terrified of technology and drug dangers for youth.
These grandparents aren’t complainers or quitters. But often you hear desperation in their voices and see tears in their eyes. Mostly, I’m humbled by their determination to do what they have to do to give their grandkids happy, secure, and as normal as possible childhoods going forward.
So while I don’t hear, “Poor me”, I do hear, “I’m dying and need to find a home for my grandson.” “I have PTSD from Vietnam and having three little ones under seven makes it worse…sometimes I just have to leave and let my 70-year-old wife deal with the chaos.” “My daughter threatens to take the kids and tells me that I’ll never see them if I apply for food stamps and housing supplements and hers is taken away–so I try to make my social security stretch.” “I don’t want to ask for help…I’ll just work until I’m eighty because my grandson needs 24-hour group housing.” “Melissa and Chavez are doing really well but I feel bad because my other grandchildren don’t understand why grandma does so much for their cousins and not for them.”
Last year 29 percent of children in foster care were being raised by relatives and for every child in relative foster care another twenty were being brought up by grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles outside of the system saving tax payers 4 billion dollars annually.
Generations United, Casey Family Programs, and other child and senior focused groups are spearheading this up-coming May gathering to educate legislators. They need your help.
Go to https://grandrally2017.org for more information about the rally and ways you can help grandparents raising grandchildren by fund raising or contacting your congressional representatives.
 Generation United, State of Grandfamilies in America: 2016.