Adopting Your Grandchild, Without Losing Your Child
Can This Really Work?
The answer to the question above is, YES!
Not only can it work, it can enrich the relationship with your older child and create a bond stronger than the one you had previously.This is our story, this is our success. This hub is being formed today to provide encouragement and hope to those who may be considering adoption of a grandchild or those who have adopted a grandchild and it is not the blissful experience you had envisioned. It's my sincere hope you find some comfort, techniques, or just plain encouragement from our story.
Our miracle began in June of 2004 as our family was preparing for the graduation of our oldest child. None of us had any idea the events that would unfold in the next few months that would test the very foundation of kinship we had built through the years. The miracle that was about to be bestowed upon us was not planed but as with most miracles, God knows when there is a need.
In July, Christi began complaining of side pain and cramps. I decided she was 18 if she needed to see a doctor then she must make the appointment herself. She went to her appointment and discovered she was pregnant and entering her 2nd trimester. They informed her that she had a very narrow window left to end the pregnancy. Christi knew immediately that she wouldn't abort, she did not believe in abortions, but she was also concerned about informing us of her pregnancy. Several more weeks passed and Christi was able to hide her pregnancy under the hoodies and large clothing that had been her normal attire.The only clue I would have had to suspect her pregnancy was the tired feelings she was having and the fatigue that just seemed to increase. I assumed it was mild depression and let down as she knew she now had to chose a career path and start schooling or working.
When she felt she could no longer hide her pregnancy, she informed us and it was quite a shock, not only that she was pregnant, but that she was VERY pregnant. I began talking with her about the plans she had for raising a child. Who was the father? What would she do for employment? She answered my questions in a very mature manner. She expressed that over the last several weeks she had given all of this great thought and this is what conclusions she had come to. The first thing she wanted to explain was the "Who dad was". She cried as she told me that she doesn't remember how it started or how it ended but she does remember bits and pieces of having sex with this boy who was a guest of a fellow classmate, at a graduation party she had attended in June. She didn't even know his full name. I inquired as to whether she thought she was drugged with something at the party. Tears streamed her face as she expressed she indeed think that someone laced her drink. It took all the strength as a mother not to become a one man lynch mob and search out to destroy the boy who had harmed my child. I managed to hold back my maternal rage, this was a feat in itself. We just held each other for along time before I inquired as to what she was going to do with the baby. Knowing I was not comfortable with adoption must have made her choice even more difficult but she informed me that she felt there was no other choice. She did not see another option as she knew in her heart that she just wasn't ready to be a mother. She was right in some aspects, I was against adoption as far as it being of a grandchild or close family member, myself being adopted by horrific people, left me never wanting to wonder if a child was truly given a loving home, but in general I believe adoption to be a grand thing, just not for anyone in my family. At that time we decided we needed to think on this and revisit the subject at another time.
Upon thinking of the quandary we were in I began to form a thought that was quite rewarding and I decided to broach the subject with my husband. I had been divorced for many years from Christi's father and remarried in 1998. My husband had also been previously been married but unlike my first marriage that produced 3 wonderful children,his ex-wife and him had not yet had children. When we married Brian was accepting and pleased to become the stepfather to my 3 children. He had come to accept that my children would be the only children he would ever have. We had never thought or dreamed that we may one day share the miracle of raising a child together. We discussed my idea of adopting Christi's baby at great length weighing the pro's and con's and in the end decided to approach Christi with the idea of us adopting her baby.
We brought up the subject of us adopting the baby with Christi. All of us discussed this in great detail. Our feelings were all over the map for this was my daughter I was discussing adoption with, not a person with whom I shared no history or previous contact. I was very unsure if this was even the type of conversation one should have with their child. Surprisingly it was a very relaxed conversation with a positive response from Christi. We discussed the pro's of her letting us adopt the baby, explaining that we felt this would ensure the baby was being raised by parents who indeed would love the baby and there would be no room for doubt of the baby's well being. The other positive in this would be Brian and I having a child of our own, something we never consider a possibility. It was like a miracle to us.
We also discussed the con's of us adopting her baby, which included my fear of losing Christi's friendship and company out of her inability to be around the baby. I expressed my concerns that she would not be able to handle being around the baby without assuming a natural role as mother and that this would bring conflict between the two of us. She understand and validated my feelings and fears We addressed the possibility that if she changed her mind and wanted to raise the baby later on, this would become a family argument for we would not allow the baby to be bounced back and forth. She also acknowledged those concerns as well. We all had allot to sleep on and decided to discuss and address all the pro's and con's after we had let it all sink in and given it some more thought. I suggested that we all write down what we did and did not want as an outcome of this and what stipulations we should put in place to protect our emotional selves if indeed we proceeded in this direction. We all agreed to discuss this again in a week.
The following week we all sat down and in detail discussed the issues each of us had in regards to us adopting the baby. Christi expressed that she was anxious about making the wrong decision and what if she decided she couldn't give the baby up and wanted to raise her? I smiled for Brian and I had already addressed that very questions in our private discussions throughout the week. So now it was our turn to let Christi know what our thoughts and desires were. I explained to her in the best way I could that we had come to a decision and plan and this was what we felt should happen, if she was also agreeable with out outlined plan.
1. We make no legal decisions until after the baby was born.
2. Christi would take on the role as mom to the baby for the first 3 months. We would help but we would not be mom and dad to the baby, she was expected to care for the baby for the first three months as mom, or until she notified us that she was positive that she was not ready to do this and did not desire to continue being a teenage mom to the baby.
3. She would be primarily responsible for the financial needs of the baby and needed to make arrangements for that. I would help her with getting assistance until she could return back to work, but that we would not provide full financial care of her and the baby. We felt that would not be in her best interest for making a life commitment. She needed to experience the full weight of parenthood without us interfering.
4. She could remain living in our home rent free as long as she continued to work until the doctors told her to stop. Her and the baby could reside her after the birth, rent free as long as she agreed to return to work after a month. She would need to make sitter arrangements and if she wanted me to watch the baby, she would have to be financially responsible for my fee. I was not trying to make things hard, just realistic. She understood and felt that was fair.
5. If at the end of three months she decided to keep her baby and was actually happy and excited about being a mother. We would help her in every way we could. She though would be mom and all that came with it, we would not be built in baby sitters for her to come and go as she pleased. She understood this as well.
6. If before the three months we over, decided that she was right about her not being ready to be a mom and had no desire to continue to try, she would inform us and arrangements would start being made for us adopting the baby. She would be allowed to remain home for 2 months and then had to find another residence as we felt that it was important that the baby have just 1 mother figure in the home. This was a hard rule to impose but one that would be necessary in order for this arrangement to have a chance at being successful. This too was understood and accepted by Christi.
So that was our plan. I was excited for the arrival of the baby, either way I felt I was going to be gaining a beautiful baby to shower love and kisses upon. We had not really thought about who would chose a name for the baby, but seeing as we all worked together so well it was a group effort of suggestions. There were so many names we had explored, when we decided to narrow down the options when Christi went in for her ultrasound. To know or not to know the sex of the baby was in fact the hot issue that month and we all flip flopped about it but in the end decided it was more practical to know ahead of time, and that would allow us to start gathering nursery items now.
Things went according to schedule and on March 2, 2005 Little Miss Vivian Rose Castleberry was born. We followed our plan and after 5 weeks of night shift duties and meeting the needs and demands of an infant Christi concluded she was not ready for motherhood. I had tried to help with as much as possible without taking over and without doing so much that the reality was no longer there. I knew it was imperative that Christi be fully exposed to her roll as mother in order for her to reach a full and acceptable decision for herself. Her decision was now made and she expressed a lack of maternal bond that she felt would be required for her to succeed as a mother. She just was not ready to be a mother and wanted what was best for Vivian.
That was over 4 years ago and these have been the most rewarding 4 years of my life. Vivian is a fantastic little girl, She is happy and active, too active. Christi has been amazing through this whole experience, having followed our plan she moved into her own place a month after deciding she was not ready to be a mother. She has been promoted at work to a management level. Christi is very active in Vivian's life and comes to visit 2-4 times per week. Some how Christi has assumed the role of sisterhood and has managed to bring that bond to an incredibly healthy level. To her credit, she does not interfere with our parenting practices with Vivian, she does not always agree with our decisions, but she accepts them as being our decisions as Vivian's parents. We now have the most perfect family with 4 great children and a warm and loving bond between us all. I credit the success of our story to the plan we developed and the backbone to make sure that it was followed to the letter in order for each of us to be emotional protected.
Can your family obtain this type of success. Absolutely. I strongly suggest an outlined plan that protects each person involved. If you are currently a grandparent who is living the role of a parent while your child comes and goes as pleases, I strongly urge you to move in the direction of closure. Your child needs to understand that there is only 1 role each of you can have in the baby's life. Parent or Grandparent. You can not be both. Make a plan outlining expectations you have for your son/daughter and stick with that plan, to love our children is easy, to love our children enough to enforce an agreement and responsibility that is expected is unconditional love in it's finest example.
I hope we have brought some insight into the rewarding experience this can be. I wish you and your family the best success in your endeavor. Don't ever give up hope. All things can work, if you just try hard enough.
Best of my thoughts to you,