Standing in the G.A.P.

I was reading this great article/blog today after a tough conversation with my oldest child this morning, (Adopting your grandchild: Are you more parent or grandparent? – by Ann Hinds – Helium) and decided that the only way that I was going to be able to put all this stuff going on in my head to rest would be to put it out here and hope that this venue will help me to navigate this rocky path that we have been on for about six years now.

I have been blessed with four phenomenal children and three grandchildren.  That is what I tell everyone I meet.  The kids are 24 (girl1), 22 (boy1), 9 (boy2), and 5 (boy3).  Starting over with boy2 was something we prepared for and prayed about for a long time.  But boy3 was an unexpected surprise that would change our family dynamics forever.  You see, the reality is that I have been blessed biologically with three children and four grandchildren.  Our firstborn grandchild became our adopted son during his first year of life.

Girl1 (boy3’s birth mother) is still very much a part of our lives and we love her very much.  She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she is brilliant, beautiful, and has such a sweet and loving spirit.  Those unfortunate decisions that she continues to make often put us as parents in the terrible position of having to choose between the welfare of one child over the welfare of another.  Only by the grace of God have we been able to manage it these past six years hoping beyond hope that it would get easier as time when on.

The first hurdle we endured was an identity question – are we mamaw/papaw or mom/dad.  We had been mamaw/papaw for the first few months but having another young child (boy2) in the house, it was confusing for everyone.  So we made the decision that was best for the little boys – one common name – mom/dad – for everyone in the house to use.  Girl1 was devastated and as much as we tried to explain it, she couldn’t hear it.  She hoped to get her life on track and be able to get him back someday; she still does, but the realities of two more kids (that we adore!), an unstable relationship with her significant other and no marketable skills or job are such that she can barely take care of herself.  Her choices forced us to institute a policy of tough love and that was the hardest thing we ever had to do as parents.  She still pushes that envelope and we still love her unconditionally, but we are now forced too often to choose.  It is heartbreaking.

Boy3 is such a phenomenal little boy.  Definitely a handful with his daily medication and hyperactivity, but he is brilliant, handsome, and has such a sweet and loving spirit, just like girl1.  I question myself on a lot of different issues every day, but I never question our resolve and dedication to providing our children, all of them, every opportunity to better themselves and excel.  Here are some pictures boy3 took with his dad’s iPhone so that you can better know him and how he sees the world.

I am sure there will be more days and times to write about how we are navigating life in the G.A.P. (Grandparents as Parents).  I can tell you this, no matter how hard it gets some days, the joy far outweighs the heartaches.

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.  – Abraham Lincoln 

(BTW, boy1 doesn’t get mentioned in this post, but he is serving our country, father to one of our grandkids and a continued blessing as are all our kids.)

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