GRAND Magazine - November/December 2017 - 33
Grands raising grandkids
Give a GRAND Gift
We had to seek custody of our grandchildren
BY GAIL GALLAGHER
My goal is to inspire and help pass legislation that allows for
easier legal access to children for grandparents-or any viable relatives-in cases of child abuse and neglect by parents. It's important for everyone to know that this can happen to anyone at any
time and to be prepared.
here are nearly three million grandparents in the U.S. raising grandchildren today. This is reaching epidemic numbers not only here, but around the globe. Other relatives,
aunts and uncles, even family friends, are also stepping in to
help rescue children who are in harm's way.
My husband and I have experienced this firsthand. From the
time my two grandchildren were born, my husband and I were
there for them. We took care of them, loved them, and cherished
them. As they grew, it became clear that our daughter was not
capable to care for them, as she battled mental illness and struggled with prescription drug addiction. When circumstances with
the children became alarming and our daughter disappeared, my
husband and I decided to act by fighting for their custody. The
process was lengthy but that is not always the case. Had we not
stepped in, despite resistance by our daughter, they would eventually have been taken and put into the foster care system.
Grandparents and other relatives
are having to shift personal plans
to take on raising children.
After experiencing this heartache and family conflict myself,
I have been working with organizations that aim to help others
in this same situation. I am currently a Texas representative for
Generations United, a wonderful organization with a plethora of
resources including information on public policy, conferences,
trainings, educational materials, and activities. It is a helpful starting point for grandparents with various needs.
Last May, my husband, Neil "Doc", was asked to speak at the
Grand Rally for grandparents and other relatives raising children.
NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2017
For grandparents and relatives
wondering what they can do, here
are several pieces of advice:
Gail with husband Neil "D
Gallagher at Grand Rally
Both of us also spoke before the Senate and the House Ways and
Means Committee to help raise awareness of this important crisis.
What I've learned over the past 15 years of listening to hundreds of stories from all over the country is that this issue is
increasing and will continue to grow, particularly as a result of the
opioid epidemic. Grandparents and other relatives are having to
shift personal plans to take on raising children. I have made it my
mission increase the awareness this crisis deserves, but it won't
happen without national, and ultimately global, knowledge.
Spend as much time as possible with your grandchildren and
their parents, letting them know you are a support system, a
trustworthy ally, and a reliable, accessible, and loving relative.
If you sense tension in the household, urge families to seek
counseling resources. Allowing the family the opportunity to
work on some things could save you conflict and heartache.
If you find yourself needing to fight for custody of grandchildren, it's best to interview several grandparent's rights attorneys to ensure you have confidence in your choice.
I now see a hidden blessing in our personal experience. We can
use what we have learned to educate and prepare others in similar circumstances. It's time to raise awareness about children in
harm's way as we find ways to allow other relatives to step in in a
timely manner and act in their best interest.
What Gail and her husband gained from their lengthy
struggle is insightful and helpful for those enduring the
same. She is an advocate with Generations United and
Crosswalk.com, has contributed to Adoption Today, and
was the originator of Grandparent's Corner in Christianity
Today International. She is the author of Grandparents
Winning Custody of Grandchildren. She lives in Texas
with her husband, children and grandchildren.
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2017
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - November/December 2017
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