Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

A Plea To Teens

For almost two decades I have been raising mentally disabled grandchildren, and while I love them dearly, the sacrifices I have had to make over those years have been challenging. When my adopted daughter, who is also disabled, was fifteen, she ran away from our home where she was greatly loved to be with a sixteen year-old boy with equally disabling challenges whom she thought she loved. The result of that union was a child, my first grandchild.

Their romance didn’t last and, when my daughter discovered she was pregnant, she asked to return home. That was the beginning of a great upheaval in my life which continues to this day, seventeen years later, as I now raise several of her children, all mentally disabled and identified with various disabilities, these being: ADHD, ODD, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Intellectual and learning disabilities, and  behaviour and anxiety disorders.

After the birth of her first child, my daughter left home again and went on to give birth to a total of seven children over the next eight years. Over the course of that time, I applied for custody of four of them with each one of my grandchildren being placed in my care when just a few weeks of age. The youngest being a cocaine baby who experienced the trauma of being delivered in a toilet at her mother’s home. After numerous court appearances, assessments, and interviews, I was granted sole custody of each child before they reached the age of two. They have three more siblings out there somewhere that my grandchildren are not aware exist and will in all likelihood never meet.

While it’s not my intention to lay guilt trips or blame on anyone, please read the following brief list of changes that raising grandchildren has made to my life and then learn how it could all so easily have been avoided.

From the day I discovered my fifteen year-old daughter was pregnant:

  • It seemed the whole neighbourhood discovered it too, causing nasty gossip and speculation as to who the father was.
  • At first, my daughter asked to raise her child at home, but I soon found myself forced into a decision to register her in a group home for pregnant teens when at eight and a half months pregnant she was hanging out on the downtown streets, drinking and getting high with friends.
  • Although I was myself a single mother raising three children of my own, after causing my family much distress by running away from home, my daughter, on learning she was pregnant, decided to come back home and have the child. As the father was, by that time, out of the picture I was naturally expected by the public health nurse to be my daughter’s coach during the delivery of my first grandchild.
  • While my daughter was registered in the group home I visited her daily and invested time in attending meetings around her, and her child’s, future.
  • Due to her decision to return home after giving birth, there was endless baby items to purchase. Naturally, due to her young age, this financial burden was placed upon my shoulders.
  • For the short time she returned home with her baby, she was visited weekly by a parents’ aide during which time I was expected to be supportive of her attempts to parent, despite her disabilities which invariably challenged both her ability and desire to be a mother, which led to my having to complete the parenting tasks myself.
  • When the few weeks she decided to parent came to an end, the CAS informed me that my daughter’s son would have to be placed in foster care. At the time, my daughter asked me to seek custody of my grandson.
  • When I informed the CAS I had decided to seek custody I was subject to an assessment, police check, regular visits to my home by a caseworker, a financial assessment by legal aid, and a consultation with a lawyer who put forth a plan of care on my behalf.
  • Within weeks, the child was placed in my care and my daughter left home again. While I parented her child she lived at various friend’s homes or on the street. During this time, she was held at knife point by one so-called friend.
  • A year later, I learned she was pregnant again by a different man.
  • By the time her first child was three and a half, she had given birth to another child who was ultimately adopted, and was pregnant with her third child of whom I took custody.
  • Less than one year later, her fourth child came along of whom I took custody, followed by her fifth child who was adopted out, followed by her sixth child of whom I took custody, until finally she had her seventh child who the CAS allowed her to keep.
  • Throughout this time I learned that all four children suffered with various disabilities and for the past seventeen years have been involved with their special needs 24/7.

It’s almost impossible to describe how emotional these past seventeen years have been, so I will simply close by encouraging sexually active TEENS everywhere to practice birth control. I cringe at the thought that all it would have taken to avoid my becoming a grandmother raising mentally disabled grandchildren was the use of birth control pills by my daughter, or condoms by the children’s fathers. Such a simple task overlooked by so many TEENS who honestly believe becoming a parent will not happen to them.

One thought on “A Plea To Teens

  1. I pray that God will give you strength to endure every day!!! I believe you are doing an amazing job!! I completely admire you for that.

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