I had watched my adult daughter spiral downhill.
First, there were holes in the wall and glass on the floor. She was never home and my grandchild was always with her dad.
I tried talking to them and taking my grandchild with reprimands like, “You get this house cleaned up or else!” Then I realized that I was witnessing two drugs addicts trying to keep it together to raise a child.
My daughter isn’t getting better; things are not improving. This is what I was faced with. What if she was like my ex-husband? He was totally functional until he wasn’t and my daughter seemed to be on that same path
I found out by happenstance that my daughter and her boyfriend were being evicted from their apartment. I have never been angrier and more scared. Was I going to have to step in and raise my grandchild? Was this really happening to me after I had already raised 5 children, two of which had disabilities? How was this fair?
The bio-dad’s parents were both deceased, so I wouldn’t be getting any help from them, and my ex-husband, well I already covered that he was functionally useless.
Well yes, that was what ultimately did happen, after some back and forth of one parent finding housing and then me monitoring my grandchild’s safety with surprise visits. When my granddaughter came to live with me, both her parents were living in a car, and keeping tabs on them became more difficult. They would only reach out if they needed something, like diapers.
I won’t go into all of the sorted nonsense that I went through to get my grandchild to safety, but I did it and I couldn’t have been more relieved.
We had our granddaughter with us for almost a year, when my husband and I had to have a heart-to-heart reality check: Was our daughter ever going to be on a good path? Did we really want our daughter back in our grandchild’s life if she wasn’t a functional adult?
The answer was obviously no, but we didn’t want to be parents again; we wanted to be grandparents — like nature had intended.
This is when I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I would reach out to an adoption attorney and see if I could have an open adoption, now that I had guardianship of my grandchild. My brilliant idea may have worked had COVID-19 not entered the picture.
Finding new parents was something that I could legally pursue, although my veteran adoption attorney had never once had a grandparent try to do this. After doing his due diligence of research he said, “Yes, I could pursue adoptions for my grandchild.”
He presented me with three families and told me to decide which one, and he would arrange phone calls with them to start. I narrowed it down to two of them and after calls with each family, I decided on one family.
My first attempt with an adoptive family was pre-Covid. My attorney and I drafted up our post-adoption agreement, which would secure an open adoption and our family’s place in my grandchild’s life. Deciding on this was heart-wrenching.
My grandchild is my little angel and my first grandchild. I knew that my husband and I could give her a much better life, but what if someone else could do even better? What if she got great parents and also got to keep her grandparents?
What if I could cushion her from her parent’s disfunction and not lose my relationship with her? What if by adoption I was securing her a much better life? It would be hard on me and her for sure, but she was still young enough to not remember all of the trauma she had already endured.
I loved the first family, and they really seemed to love my grandchild. They had one child naturally and adopted their second child. They already had a room for her. I got along with the husband’s mother fabulously. I thought this could really work.
They ended up backing out when the mother had some issues arise around her own fertility and she decided to back out of the adoption. Her husband was devastated and I was too. I was trying to give my granddaughter a better life, not have her rejected yet again.
My attorney was pissed. He got me on a call with the head of the adoption agency and said that I should try again with the family I didn’t choose, that they were heartbroken that I hadn’t chosen them. I was told that nothing like this had ever happened before, a family backing out just wasn’t a thing, and this time it would work
But it didn’t. Family two backed out after 3 months of visits.
What went through my head: Is the universe trying to tell me something? Is there something I am blind to about my grandchild?
I was ready to give up. I didn’t want to put my grandchild through anything else — although to be honest she really just saw this as playdates and was having a great time.
But I wasn’t. My heart was on the line with every visit and I was always holding my breath for her, me, and my husband. I was scared of placing her with a family, and I also was scared to raise another child. Both choices were heartbreaking.
The adoption agency and my attorney convinced me to give it a third try, but they would put safeguards in place. I would have my own social worker and she would pre-screen three families. Then I would choose which family and the post-adoption agreement would be signed before we even met.
I picked a family, and my grandchild would be very close by. They signed the agreement, and we spent time together without my grandchild. We seemed to be a good fit. They had no other children, unlike the others. They were older, so most people looking for adoptive parents wouldn’t consider them. I would, because I, myself, am older, so no ageism here.
Then COVID hit, and this placement didn’t work, either. We couldn’t do a normal transition amid the shutdown and not being able to be around each other ended up causing a lot of strain.
So the universe had spoken.
I gave finding my grandchild new parents a college try, but she was supposed to be with us. I know this now with every cell of my being.
Raising another child is hard, but my life isn’t over, which I had thought it would be. She is happy and so are we — our life just looks different than we had envisioned.
I have learned so much from this experience, and I actually don’t regret this process because it showed me a clear path of what I needed to do. I tried to find a better alternative for my grandchild — and found out that we were, in fact, that better alternative.
We adopted our grandchild and it was finalized in February of 2021. I am a mom again and we are now starting anew, and she is an amazing little girl.
My daughter and her boyfriend are still homeless and still not on a better path. That fact still breaks my heart, but when I go into my grandchild’s room and see her sleeping comfortably in a warm bed, I can sleep at night, and know it was all worth it.
Lisa Holliday is the Founder of helpinggrandparents.com, which offers support and resources to grandparents who are advocating on behalf of themselves and their grandchildren.