Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Make a Lasting Impact
I believe there are imaginary threads in everyone’s life, and these threads are connected. If you pull on these threads you will find the answers to why you do the things you do. These threads bind your life together and give meaning to your actions. Often times, these threads are the people who mean the most to you – for me, my grandmother is the reason I work at Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS).
I don’t mean this literally. My grandmother died long before I thought about changing careers from corporate to non-profit. She never advised me on what career to choose, but she is the reason I am here. I’ve come to this realization over the last few years, and, frankly, it came as a shock to me.
After working at a major newspaper in Philadelphia for over 10 years, I was blessed with a son and daughter and decided to stay home to raise them. After 15 years at home, I made a major life decision. I wanted to work for a nonprofit and put my efforts into a cause. There is so much need in the world that, unfortunately, causes are abundant. I worked for several non-profits for a short time, but it didn’t feel quite right to me. So, I answered an ad in a local newspaper, and came to work for Foster and Adoptive Family Services, and it felt right.
So, how did my grandmother influence my decision? To answer this, I look back at my earliest memories. I was raised by my grandmother. In today’s jargon, she would be a kinship provider. To me, she was grandmom. I later learned that when I was eight weeks old, she removed me from my parents’ home, and I went to live with her until I got married at age 21. When I became pregnant with my son, she came to live with us until she passed away ten years later.
My grandmother taught me valuable lessons that bind me to my decisions. She never spoke ill of my parents and made many sacrifices for me. Over the years, if my parents wanted to see me, she allowed it, but supervised the visit. She was the stable influence in my life. I knew she would be there when I got home from school, would help me with my homework, take me to the playground, and most importantly, would never abandon me.
I didn’t make the connection from my past when I applied for the job at FAFS. That realization came as I started working here. I understand how children feel when separated from their parents and siblings. I understand how painful visitations can be. I also understand the need for stability, being safe, and knowing with absolute certainty that there is someone in your life who loves you unconditionally.
I bring the child’s eyes, ears, and heart to this job. I look at everything, listen to everything, and feel everything as the child who is being raised by someone other than the biological parents. To those who haven’t lived this, believe me when I say the child needs someone trustworthy, loving, and understanding of the burdens this places on the child.
So, despite my advancing age, in my mind, I am still the child whose grandmother made the decision that it wasn’t safe for me to live with my parents. Her love, compassion, and sacrifices are the threads that bind me to bring the child’s voice to my work at FAFS.
To those of you that are walking beside my grandmother as you care for someone else’s biological child, thank you. Give these children threads of understanding, compassion, and selflessness that they can bind to others in their adult lives.