Twenty years ago I was the only kid I knew of being raised by grandparents. Now, I need both hands to count the number of children I know whose biological parents have relinquished care to the grandparents.
In the case of a thoughtless pregnancy or irresponsible behavior by parents, responsibility for care of the child often seems to fall to the grandparents. They are the ones who will fulfill the child's needs for love, moral values, shelter and provisions. Those last two needs cost money.
I had the example of, not just good -- but grand parents at home. Maybe they'd made their mistakes with my dad and his brother, or perhaps time had mellowed their parenting style. As an adult I became aware of the fact that my grandparents gave up any hope of retirement to raise me.
When I was 6 months old my biological mother walked out on my dad, leaving me and three other children. I went to live with my fraternal grandparents.
Months passed. It became apparent that my mother was not coming back, so my grandparents Jean and Jarvis adopted me. I was about 2 years old. They were now my Mama and Popa.
Mama taught me that sharing with others was important. She used to bake pie tins of rolls and I would deliver them to neighbors. Popa instilled in me my love of words. He came home every night, cleaned off the grease from his job as an auto mechanic, then sat down with me on his lap and read to me.
Like many families, we didn't have much in the way of money, but I was raised knowing to the core of my soul that I was loved. Home was a place where it was fun to bring my friends over. Home was a place that was safe. Home was a place where I learned the value in working to achieve dreams big and small.
Had my grandparents not adopted me, my formative years would certainly have included alcohol and probably heroin. I would have had a succession of six stepmothers. I could have wound up a statistic of the California foster care system, or in juvenile detention, which is what eventually happened to my three half-siblings.
I was lucky to have my grandparents to tell me there was nothing I couldn't accomplish.
I believe that we accomplish parenthood moment by moment, raising the children who we love.