Turning Point Toward a “New Normal”

Wow! What a year! I know that all of us were glad to see 2020 come to a close and that we are hopeful that 2021 will be a more “normal” year. Hopefully, 2021 will be more normal, and yet, I sense that our lives will forever be different and never again, “as it was”. So, we are looking for a “new normal”.

The picture that I just described is also what all of us that are raising our grandchildren, have experienced, and will continue to experience, finding a “New Normal”. Our lives, and the lives of our grandchildren will never be as they were. Our whole experience is about discovering a “new normal” that is safe and productive for our grandchildren and ourselves. Just as 2020 was a year of crisis, turmoil, tragedy and life, as we have never experienced it before. The same could be said about our experience coming into situation when we became, “grandparents raising grandchildren”. We all were ushered into our new roles as a result of a time of crisis. For many of us, that time of crisis was not a crisis lasting a few days, but often, a time of crisis lasting years. Our grandchildren were the main victims of those times of crisis, and the ones who experienced the greatest hurt and loss.

Our goal as grandparents who are raising our grandchildren, is to provide a “new normal” for our grandchildren that is characterized by safety, consistency, nurture, support, and obviously, love. We were fortunate that we were able to intervene in Sebellah’s story very early. We have had her in our care since she was 5 months old. Although it was early, those first 5 months of her life were very chaotic and tragic, with lasting consequences. She is a beautiful and healthy young lady of 6, today, and yet she still struggles with fears and anxieties that I believe can be traced back to those first 5 months of her life. Fortunately, we have been able to discover and maintain a “new normal” for her that will offer her the opportunity to be successful and to discover all of the wonders of her unique “giftedness” that makes her, Sebellah. We are fortunate to have a great resource of friends and family members that have assisted us in creating that “new normal” for her.

Allene and I have also had to find our own “new normal” and we are having to redefine it every day. There are times that I do definitely miss our previous life and wonder what our lives would be like if we were not in this situation. That kind of grief is a normal part of this journey and one that is okay, and even healthy, to acknowledge. Although there are times of grief, the greater experience is joy and thankfulness for the positive impact that Sebellah and our experience of raising Sebellah has had on our lives.

Developing and maintaining the “new normal” is hard work and we have constantly remind ourselves that it is important to keep working at it. We have to work at finding the energy to be a parent at this stage of our lives. We have to work to find and maintain friendships that are important for our own well being. Allene is better at that than I am. We have to work to be able find the balance of being Sebellah’s “parents” and “grandparents” to our other five grandchildren.

As we start this new year of 2021 and are turning toward a more hopeful life experience this year, I am thankful for the opportunity to be an instrument in the “turning point” experience for Sebellah and I am thankful for her and the instrument that she is the “turning point” in my life and in our lives.

Sharing the Journey,

Rich (“Pops”)

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I have been involved in the field of Human Services for 30 plus years. I teach in the field of Human Services for Purdue University Global. Allene is a stay at home "Lolli", after spending many years in the Healthcare field. We have 3 adult children and in May, 2018, we adopted our granddaughter, who is 6 years-old. We have had her since she was 5 months old. At the end of 2019, we moved to Mount Airy, North Carolina, as a part of a plan to downsize and give Allene the chance to retire, and be at home full-time. We are devoted to making a difference in Sebellah's life and also in the lives of other grandparents raising grandchildren.

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