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Friday, August 23, 2013

‘Volunteer’ Parents—Heroes to Children in Need


By Linda Lovely

In the spirit of our monthly blog topic—celebrating heroes—I’m saluting all the wonderful people who voluntarily take on parenting roles and provide love and support to children who don’t happen to be their biological offspring.

My hero candidates include all people who adopt or provide foster care to unrelated children. I’d also like to give special recognition to the many relatives who step in to provide loving homes to members of their families. 

  • Grandparents
Since I’m old enough to be a grandparent myself, I have added admiration for grands who are retired or near retirement age, and still willingly take on the responsibility of raising young children. I know of one case where the parents were killed in an automobile accident, orphaning six young children (including a set of four-year-old twins). These seventy-something grandparents do everything for these kids. In fact, due to changing times and chauffeuring needs, they probably have more parental duties than they had for their own children.

These grandparents attend school conferences, and cheer at every soccer, softball, and basketball game. In fact, they often split up so grandma can root for a child playing soccer, while grandpa cheers a softball star at a different field. The grands help with homework, read bedtime stories, and seek out every resource to help the children cope with their loss and succeed in the future.

In the process, these grands forgo many of the leisure activities and vacations they planned for retirement. As a topper, they bank the Social Security benefits for the future of the children, refusing to touch a dime though money’s tight. The cost of new sneakers at the beginning of the school year and a week’s supply of milk for six growing kids would make anyone gasp.
 
  • Siblings
In another case, a man and woman were arrested, tried, and convicted for dealing drugs. Their baby was only a few months old, and the couple had three other children. The felon's sister and her husband took in all four children. Money’s tight but there’s no shortage of love for every member of this blended family.

So here’s a toast to these heroes. When these children are grown, I hope they recognize how lucky they were to have such loving and selfless guardians.

If you’re the parent of underage children, have you made your guardianship wishes known in case you’re unable to care for your offspring? If not, you might want to do so today.
 
Are you acting as a parent for a relative’s child? If so, are the challenges and rewards different than they are/were in bringing up your own offspring?

8 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Great blog.
Unsung heroes for sure.

Regards

Margaret

Paty Jager said...

My husband and I adopted a 5 year old boy hoping to give our son a brother. We did all we could to help him learn to survive when he felt like a misfit and tried to guide him to a life that didn't resemble where he came from. But when he turned 18, he turned on us and has nothing to do with us now.

Our oldest daughter and her husband adopted two half sisters. They were younger; 8 months and 18 months and while the younger one has some issues they are doing well.

Knock, on wood we don't have to take in grandchildren but we would if the need arose, though our children have already designated one another to take on the parenting roles should something happen to one of them.

People and families who take on others children get a big hat tip from me.

Linda Lovely said...

Bless you, Paty, and your family for your big hearts.

Judith Ashley said...

I'm one of the 'grands' with a year to go until my granddaughter graduates from high school. Although I know I'll still be in her life, I expect/hope to reclaim a bit more of my own...or what I thought this time of my life would be like.

For me the rewards are similar - seeing success in mastering life's challenges and providing a solid foundation from which to grow. the challenges are different because my son (her dad) and she are different and the times are different.

In many ways it is easier now, even though there are more challenges, because I'm not working full time.

Sarah Raplee said...

My beloved daughter-in-law and son-in-law are both adopted children. I also have two 'adopted' granddaughters. All their parents are heroes in my book!

I read a poem once that I wish I could find again. It expresses my feelings exactly:

'Not flesh of my flesh nor bone of my bone,
But child of my heart, through love alone.'

I can't remember the rest.

Paty, your son's actions must have broken your heart. How sad for him that he can't accept love and family!

There are no guarantees in parenting, whether the child is your blood or a child of your heart alone. That's one of the reasons choosing to parent is in itself incredibly heroic.

Diana Mcc. said...

Linda,
What a thought provoking post. I admire anyone who adopts, fosters or family that takes in children. And the sad thing is, there are so many children in America that need loving homes. Very sad.

Linda Lovely said...

Wow, I didn't know so many of my colleagues were involved in 'volunteer' parenting. My hats are off to you all. When young children visit our house, my husband and I really enjoy it, but we're usually exhausted by the time they leave. "Older" folks that take on this role must tap hidden stores of energy. I'm in awe.

Judith Ashley said...

I chuckled when I read your response about being exhausted, Linda. It seems to be a perpetual state - I even tell myself I'm tired of saying how tired I am hoping that if I don't mention it, I won't be tired. Haven't found that to be true - but then I only have one year to go and it was more exhausting 5 years ago.