What you may not know about grandparents raising grandchildren:
- Relatives nationally are now caring for 27% of all foster care children.
- For every child being raised by a relative in the system (the majority are grandparents)—23 more are outside of the system.
- Out-of-system ‘grandfamilies’ save taxpayers $4 billion annually but at a huge cost to their own lost wages, savings, and future independence.The toll addictions take on families can’t be measured.
Sunday, September 13 was National Grandparent’s Day.
Four million cards were sent to honor grandparents this year. But a more practical gift for 2.7 million grandparents struggling to raise nearly 7.8 children where “grand” has taken a backseat to “parenting” would be a copy of Joan Callander Dingle (speaker at White House briefing on Foster Care in May) and her adopted 23-year-old grandson, Chad’s, new book Raising Children of Alcoholics & Drug Users, being released October 1st..
Grandparents grappling with visitations, adoption/custody/guardianship, grandkids’ questions, family projects in school, counseling, special needs, and a life-long string of other issues will find help and encouragement. The authors skillfully interweave their personal story and emotions with insights, and advice, from other families and professionals revealing the complexity of problems, and the rewards of breaking free.
Written by Merry MacKinnon |
As a grandmother, Joan Callander Dingle knows that when a grown son or daughter has an addiction to alcohol or drugs, the problem is even more complicated if he or she has kids. Often, the question becomes: How can a sober grandparent gain control over their grandchild’s chaotic life?
“My daughter fell off the edge, and I turned all my attention to my grandson,” said Callander, a West Linn resident who gained custody of her grandson Chad when he was about 4 and she was 46.
Today, her grandson is 23 and recently married. But the turmoil he experienced in his formative years caused Chad to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It took years of care and counseling before Chad, who was physically abused as a toddler, became emotionally stable.
“This was a very damaged child,” Callander said.
For years, his drug-addicted mother was in and out of their lives. “But Chad was too fragile to follow his mother’s up and down spiral,” Callander said. “And when he was in high school we cut all ties with her.”
Although many reasons explain why a grandparent might raise a grandchild, such as the death of the parent, mental illness, poverty, incarceration or military deployment, by far most cases involve alcohol or drug addictions of the parent, Callander Dingle said. Because of what she learned the hard way while raising Chad, Callander Dingle recommends that if drugs are involved, especially methamphetamines, grandparents should try to get custody of their grandchildren and, preferably, adopt them before severe trauma takes its toll on the children.