Updated: Jan 16
By Tawna F,
Four years ago, I let my niece move in temporarily when she was pregnant and had no place to go. Quickly, it became clear that she had some serious challenges with mental illness. After the Division for Children, Youth, and Family (DCYF) was called by my niece’s doctor, I was asked to temporarily take my Grandnephew until his biologic mom got the help she needed. I agreed, of course, and my Grandnephew stayed with me while his mom refused to get help and then moved out.
I should mention that my niece is not my biological niece, but my sister has raised her since she was six months old because her mother also had serious mental illnesses. Because of this arrangement, we get no financial help with my Grandnephew. The State does not recognize him as a relative and therefore will not help us.
Despite our many challenges, I have made it my mission to speak loud and often to whoever I can about this situation. It is not right to deny people like us the help we need when we’ve stepped up to give children better lives. I have started a non-profit to help others like me. Though it’s in its beginning stages, it can help with daycare, legal fees that come with protecting these children and keeping them safe, and the therapy that the children may eventually need.
I never imagined starting over in my fifties to raise a child, but I have taken on fully and am committed to giving him a safe and happy life.
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