Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Real Life Curves

At least it's NOT health-related.

But life-changing? Oh yeah!

I've written before about my five adopted daughters. All but one came to me with significant emotional issues. Over time, some of those issues resolved. Some didn't. But resolved or not, eventually all five girls left home to make their way in the world as adults.

My most seriously-disturbed daughter has always had a sad and chaotic life. Unfortunately, she has four children who share in that life. Last week, the chaos became too great and the state stepped in.

The end result is that two children went with one father and two others went with another.

But one of those fathers was not in a residential setting conducive to rearing children.

Which explains how Grace, after finally living all by herself and loving it, now has a six year old and a seven year old, along with their father, sharing her home.

It IS an adjustment!

And it DOES affect my finances.

The heating bills are going up. The food expenses are increasing. And I'd forgotten all those niggling school costs that hit you every time you turn around--school lunches, PTA, Gift wrap and cookie sales, field trips, birthday parties, etc.

One one hand, I love having my grandchildren around, and knowing that they are safe. On the other hand, I get to kiss my free time and savings good-by.

I'm not sure how long this is going to last, but several months at least.


Linda said...

We never stop being parents, do we, even if the people we're parenting at times are our grandchildren. Although our situation is a little different than yours, one of our granddaughters is fragile and requires many therapies and hospitalizations, which means that her mother, our daughter, can't work full time. (To prospective employer: Oh, I need off next Tuesday for my daughter's speech therapy, Wednesday to go to Texas Children's for an audiology appointment and to her school for her meeting with the group that oversees her goals, next Thursday to bring my other daughter to Texas Children's to see her neurologist, etc.) It also means her expenses have been far more than her income at times, and that she needs lots of extra help with that and with childcare. Who else can babysit a deaf five-year-old with a metabolic disorder, with a special protocol to hand to the ER doctors should she fall ill, and her eight-year-old sister on medications for migraines and a mood disorder? Sometimes I find I'm chastising myself for the situation, somehow, as if I somehow failed to plan appropriately. I hope you don't do that. No one plans for these kinds of situations. Give yourself some pats on the back for being able to be there for your children and grandchildren and don't feel alone. You must be a great woman with an open heart.

Living Almost Large said...

Good luck with this new curve ball.

Dawn said...

Wow. That is incredibly life changing. Sounds like you are up to the challenge, but I understand completely about missing your free time and your space.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Grace, you are so giving. Please take care of yourself during this wonderful and very challenging time.

Florence said...

God bless your sweet, caring heart. Take care of yourself during this time; it is bound to be a challenge.

Did it MY way said...

You are a saint. Good luck, and God Bless.

Bucksome said...

How generous of you to provide a home not only for your grandkids but also for their father.

Your headline says it all.

Shevy said...

This is definitely a challenge. I know the joy and the fatigue of taking care of granddaughters and of living with them. I, however, am in the more fortunate position of sharing a home with them by choice rather than circumstance. And both their parents support them financially and take care of them the bulk of the time.

When you're tired you need to just sit back and remember that you're building solid memories for your grandkids to take with them in their chaotic lives.

Oh, and I hear you about the nickel & diming from the school. It seems that I never received the (once a month) hot lunch form. It has to be in tomorrow morning, with full payment of course, or Dear Child doesn't get hot lunch next week!

Sharon said...

Whew. That's a lot on your plate. How are your other grandchildren and your daughter doing? That must be terribly hard for you, I can't even imagine. Does the father work so he can help you out with expenses? My thoughts and prayers are with you so that this can resolve itself sooner rather than later, so your plans don't get pushed to the side for too long!

Anonymous said...

Bravo for helping (again). Sorry it came to that.

Revanche said...

Oh my goodness, is there anything we can do to help?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Grace, but I can't agree what you have done is going to help anyone. You took on the challenge of the original emotionally disturbed child and you failed. Not that anyone likely would have succeeded, but the fact is you failed. She went out, had four more children by two fathers, and saddled the state (the taxpayers) and you with the mess. This father was in a living situation not suitable for a parent. Yet he IS a parent. Is he supporting these children? If not, he should be out there every day looking for a job and he should not get a free ride from you or the state.

These people and the others like them are one of the major problems this country faces. Personal responsibility has gone by the wayside. Instead, we get excuses for every socially unacceptable behavior under the sun. Everyone who has a hard time functioning in society is now "emotionally disturbed."

People who truly cannot function need treatment. If this adult child is psychotic or addicted, she should get treatment. What she should not get is a dime of support from you or the state that allows her to go out and produce four more problems.

I don't know what you are going to do that will help these children. You can give them a little stability but you are not the parent. One or both parents must accept the responsibility of raising these children. Otherwise we will have more "emotionally disturbed" people burdening our society.

At some point your adult children will succeed or fail without Grace being there to pick up the pieces. You did what you could for this child and her siblings, but they are adults now. In my view, it's time for Grace to practice some tough love and protect Grace.

Carol said...

Grace, I don't think you "failed" at all. I know a "regular person" that I went to school with, someone who is (supposedly) not troubled with emotional problems who has five children by five different men, and had all but one of her children taken away by the state. So that can happen to anyone, too.

We actually just had a therapy session today, DD, me, her therapist, where she (the therapist) talked about how these kids' impulse control part is broken. You can't TEACH it to be fixed, it just plain doesn't work. I can very easily see DD in that same spot. And I won't think that I "failed". I will think that I did the very best I could with a child who had brain damage. I showed her love, I taught her how to read, how to do laundry, how to cook....gave her the tools she would need in order to be able to live independently. But nothing I can teach her, or model to her, is going to fix her "broken brain".

Right now, with DD, I can't predict from one day to the next what new drama will come down. Just when I think I have things figured out, there's something new I never ever thought of. I know you know what I'm talking about. There's no way you can foresee it all and "teach" it away. The person who wrote that does not have any experience with these kinds of kids, that is for sure.

And I hope that the day never comes, but, I do fear that it probably will, and I hope that when DD's kids need a stable home that she can't provide, that I am in a situation to be able to provide that.

And who is not to say that if you had not been in your daughter's life, that things might have somehow turned out much more tragic?

Bless you for being so understanding. You are doing the best thing possible in these unfortunate circumstances.


Grace. said...

Ah, Carol, you DO get it, whereas Anon clearly does not. This particular daughter was physcially and sexually abused and severely neglected during her first three years of life. Then she went into foster care where the state did not do much better, putting her into 33 foster homes, two group homes and a residential treatment center, as well as a failed adoptive placement. I think we're lucky she functions at all.

As far as the father of the two youngest children--he works a minimum wage job, was paying support and living with four male roommates--no place for two young kids. He stepped up to the plate but he IS overwhelmed by the task, and knew to reach out for help.

So I'm helping. And keeping my fingers crossed that this is not permanent.

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Anonymous said...

That other anon is a fool.

Living Almost Large said...

Hopefully the cycle breaks soon. People who think it's so easy to break should step in and help more. It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to get out of bad situations.

It's so damn easy to step out say "get a job", get off welfare. It's a lot harder to do it.

Shevy said...

Anonymous@6:48 really doesn't get it.

First of all, given the circumstances of your DD's life, you certainly did not fail. You got her from where she was to where she is now and you got there by giving her love and structure and all that. If she'd stayed in one of those foster homes imagine how much less functional she'd be right now. The fact that you couldn't "fix" her and make her "normal" is really beside the point.

Anonymous talks about personal responsibility going by the wayside, but is advocating that you abdicate that responsibility.

"Hey, they're not my kids. I did what I could with my daughter and she's grown up now, so I have no more responsibility for her or her children."

How would taking that course of action help anybody? Would taxpayers be *less* on the hook at that point? Would the children have a better chance of growing up and being able to break the cycle? Would your daughter become a more functional person?

No, of course not. There's a huge difference between enabling behaviour and taking responsibility for the actions of our dependents who are unable (for whatever reason) to take responsibility themselves. That's the case whether we're talking about a parent with dementia, a child or adult with mental health issues, a family member who has had a stroke or is in a coma, etc.

Giving an addict money to buy drugs is enabling. Bailing them out is enabling. Making sure that they have a winter coat is not. Making sure that their young children are safe and healthy is definitely not!

Oh, and for the record, you can't force a substance abuser to detox or most mentally ill people into a psychiatric ward (other than for the most minimal periods). It would be nice if they did it, but they have to choose to do so and it's not a choice many of them are equipped to make, even though they might want to at times. The drugs or the mental illness are too strong.

Anonymous needs a strong dose of reality. These aren't made up problems. And you don't fix them by sticking your head in the sand.