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.
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.
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?