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Becoming a grandparent is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. It is the icing on the cake of parenting... right? Well, it doesn't work out that way for an ever growing number of grandparents. For a huge percentage, becoming a grandparent is coupled with the role of parent for one or more of your child's child.
It happened to us in 2006. Well, let me correct that statement. It didn't happen to us, we made the choice. And we would not change that decision despite the challenges. And believe me when I say there are challenges unique to the role of both grandparent and parent.
Occasionally a tragic accident causes these circumstances. In most cases, however, it is due to the inability for your child to parent due to life choices or other controllable circumstances that asks the question... Can you become a parent to your grandchild?
Robert and I met those circumstances face to face in 2006. I remember the day we found out. We were on a romantic weekend road trip. The first we had been able to take since becoming empty nesters. We had toured the mountains, staying in beautiful B&B's in our beautiful state of Colorado. We were on the last night of our short vacation, this time staying in a hotel that we would have normally passed on because of the high price. We had just returned to the room after a nice dinner out, when the phone rang.
Before she could tell us, we knew... as parents we just knew. Our 20 year old was pregnant. Now neither of us were shocked but we were taken back just a notch. After a short conversation, we hung up the phone and looked at each other. Then the obvious hit us... there was no way our 20 year old was going to be a full time mother. Decisions had to be made.
See, our daughter had difficulties. Actually from the time she was in 2nd grade we'd worked with psychologists and doctors to try to get proper diagnosis for her challenges. Which were a long time coming and never super definitive. But "adulting" for our daughter did not come easily. So the idea of her being a parent was, well, ludicrous.
We had to decide how we could help her make decisions, especially under this kind of stress. During her pregnancy, we sought counseling personally and for her. During her 5th month of pregnancy we had to take custody of our daughter and her unborn child because of acts and continued threats of self harm by our daughter. We told our daughter in the beginning of this journey that we would support whatever decision she would make except for abortion... and then we offered what we were willing to do. We were willing to raise her child, as our own. If we did that she would still be able to be a part of her child's life and she could even work toward being stable enough to have her for overnight stays... etc.
When she made the final decisions regarding her pregnancy, she concluded that she wanted us to raise the baby. She did not want us to adopt, but to raise her as her daughter, our granddaughter. She would work with her therapist to try to become the parent that her child deserved, and on top of that she agreed to take measures to ensure that she could never get pregnant again.
As our journey began, it would lead to some of the most heartbreaking moments in our life as parents and grandparents, and some of the most joyous. We had a roller coaster of a life for nearly 5 years. When the dust settles during the coasting parts of our lives as both parent and grandparent, we are so grateful we made the choice we did. I will continue to share our journey, some of the highs and lows, in hopes that there are other grandparents out there who may learn from our experiences.
I will warn that some of the details will cause laughter, while others will cause tears. Ultimately this is life... our life... and the life of so many like us. A joy, a sorrow, a fear, and a hope carry us each day to the next. Join me as I share our journey.