I will never forget the night I received a call from my daughter, frantic and crying, “They took my kids, Ma. I don’t know where they took them.”
“ACS and the police.”
My granddaughters were 14 months and 3 at the time. I imagined the police and the worker snatching the girls from their mother. I imagined my daughter frantic, not wanting to let go. Then, off into the night they went.
NOT JUST GRAMMY
At that moment I got angry, not only at ACS but also at my daughter. A few days later, an ACS worker contacted me and said I could become a kinship foster parent.
Soon the girls came to live with me. After two years, the permanency goal was changed to adoption. I felt as if I were in mourning. I just wanted to be Grammy, not their mommy.
WORK TO DO
Still, my daughter and I agreed to try to parent the girls together.
Over time, my daughter stabilized her life. She also had two more children. When my girls were in elementary school, they went to live with their mother and half-sisters. But my daughter made some wrong choices. After six months, the girls came back to me.
Then my daughter worked even harder. She obtained a better job, a better home. She got married. “My daughter finally has grown up,” I said to myself.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck. My daughter’s husband became ill and died two years after they were married. My daughter could not raise all four children on her own.
BACK TO MOM
After that, my daughter and I continued to try to raise the girls as a team.
When my oldest granddaughter was in 8th grade, she went to live with her mother. At first, she was happy, I was happy and my daughter was happy.
But my granddaughter had been diagnosed bipolar the year before. Halfway through the school year, she started to have trouble controlling her behavior and my daughter sent her home to me.
My granddaughter said, “I don’t care. Mommy is annoying,” but I could see her sadness. So I hugged her and told her, “You will always have a home with me.”
Then my younger granddaughter began to act out. I tried talking to her, grounding her, but she was determined.
During that time, my daughter moved to Arizona. She felt that I could not handle my younger granddaughter, and I agreed.
So we decided to send her to Arizona, but my granddaughter did not want to go. Once there, her calls kept coming. She’d beg to come back, exclaiming, “I will be good! I hate it here. And it’s too hot.”
When they all came to New York for Christmas break, boy was my granddaughter happy. When it came time to go back to Arizona, she stayed out late, hoping she would miss the plane. When she finally showed up, she and her mother went at it. I got in between them and was literally knocked down on the floor. After that, my daughter just left and my granddaughter stayed.
HOME FOR GOOD
Now my granddaughters are in their 20s and live with me. It has been a roller coaster co-parenting with my daughter. There were times when I felt like I was her ex-husband, or that she was my third teenager. And it has been painful for my granddaughters every time they’ve tried to reunify and it hasn’t worked out.
Still, I believe it will have a long-lasting positive effect on my granddaughters that we’ve co-parented. My daughter and I have agreed on many things big and little, and especially on the importance of education.
Most importantly, the girls know that their mother is in their life. I am glad that they have always been able to see her and talk to her when they want to.