It’s all over the television news and in the newspapers – grandparents are taking on more and more responsibilities for their grandchildren as there seems to be an increase in drug use and parents can’t or won’t take care of their children.
Divorce can be a factor as well and both parents working many hours can take a toll on their children and many times the children’s grandparents either want to take over or feel as though they must take charge of the children.
I grew up in the 50s and only had one grandparent – my father’s father – whom we called Pop. My father’s mother died when he was a young child and he spent many of his younger years in the Akron Children’s home. My mother’s father died when she was young and her mother parceled out most of her young children to other relatives, older sisters and aunts. She died when I was about a year old.
Pop lived in Alabama so we didn’t get to see him very often. He was quite a character and we were all a little afraid of him. I can’t imagine my parents ever letting my brothers and I staying with him for any length of time. But during that time, as it has been throughout all time, grandparents have often played a role in helping to raise their grandchildren if not raising them by themselves.
Author of Bestselling Book Raised By Grandparents
In the bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, the author talks about his childhood with a single mother who married frequently and often to abusive men. She attempted suicide when Vance was eleven. She began partying and abusing alcohol and eventually drugs.
Vance talks about the powerful influence his grandparents had on him and his older sister during his young life. He was mostly raised in Middletown, Ohio, after moving there from Kentucky’s Appalachia region.
His grandparents basically raised him while his mother struggled with drug addiction.
Some things never change – whether you’re in Ohio or any other state. In 2016, 2.7 million grandparents nationwide were raising grandchildren and the numbers are increasing. The trend is likely to continue due to the opiate epidemic which is sweeping this country.
Child welfare agencies report that there is an increase in the number of children, especially infants, taken from parents battling drug additions and mental health issues. (Associated Press, Alejandra Cancino / 2016). For many grandparents it is a challenge both monetarily and/or physically.
Federal law requires that states consider placing children with relatives in order to receive foster care and adoption assistance. Grandparents are often the first and many times the best choice according to Angela Sausser, executive director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio which is a coalition of public child safety agencies in the state.
Karl’s Story of Raising His Grandchildren
Karl Hicken of Washington, Utah adopted his two grandchildren about five years ago when Ezra, who is now five was eight months old. His granddaughter, Eve is 9. They have the same mother but different fathers. One of his four children and his girlfriend “have lost their way and they are somewhere on the street” according to Hicken, “and Family Services removed the children from their home.” Hicken happened to be there and took the children, first to foster and eventually he adopted them. He is divorced but has since remarried.
Hicken is now 62 years old and when he’s asked how it’s like to raise two small children he says, “It’s hard, I enjoy it because we have a lot of fun, but it’s hard.” The children call him Papi and he said he likes it because it’s not Daddy nor is it Grandpa. When asked about the benefits of raising these two children, he said that ‘doing the right thing’ is huge. He gets to see them everyday and “getting them to school everyday is part of my day.”
When Hicken is asked about letting his children see their parents he says, “They will never see their parents again. Even if they came to me and said we’re going to rehab, blah, blah blah, they’re not going to see them. It’s not going to happen.” Eve’s dad is not his son, but Ezra’s dad is Hicken’s son. He does allow Eve to see her father occasionally now after a long time of resistance.
Drug abuse seems to be a common theme when grandchildren are removed from the home. Hicken said, “I know it will work out but it’s tough,” when asked if he ever thinks, “What the heck was I thinking!” He also said the children do ask about their parents now and he said, “We talk about them all the time. I’m very free with most information, not all.” People have praised him for what he’s doing and he says, “When you’re standing there and they want to put these children in foster care, you ask yourself, “would you give them up?””
American Grandparents Association
The website Grandparents.com has established the American Grandparents Association, dedicated to ensuring the best for grandparents and their families. One goal of the Association is to become a key resource for grandparents who are physically removed from their grandchildren and would like to find a way to visit them or gain custody of them. They provide the guide to grandparent rights in all 50 states.
Should you need specific legal advice on your own grandparent rights, consult a lawyer in your home state who may know of any recent changes in your state’s laws.
There are Grandparents rights in Ohio if there is a concern about the welfare of a grandchild. Those rights include custody and visitation. If you need help with custody or visitation rights with a grandchild, the law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP can help you. They have experienced attorneys who handle many types of domestic relations matters including grandparent rights.
To contact the law firm for a free consultation, please call 1-888-774-9265, chat with one of the 24-hour live chat representatives or send a website message.