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  • Cathleen C.

Our Tribe

By: Cathleen C.

We all relate to the unforgettable moment when our baby is first placed in our arms. Whether we gave birth to that precious child or we are the father, or whether it is at the moment the adoption has been finalized—that utterly joy is seared into memory.

I was 26 when my only child was born. I was 50 when my granddaughter was born. And when I turned 51, I became a mother again. Better said, I was in the role of mothering again.

The moment guardianship was finalized, I held her in my arms and, yes, I did feel joy. But she had come by my family's own version of a burning building, my son in the throes of opioid addiction. There wasn't just joy though; there was fear, there was heartache.

What precedes court involvement is trauma and many certainly countless crises. We experienced a tornado of confluences that spanned from utter joy to terror, from relief to sorrow.

Diapers, changing table, child monitor, crib, educational toys, books, and toddler tunes filled our home. My CDs playing Streisand, my husband's Coldplay, were replaced with The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round; the TV played Barnie, Curious George, and Super Y. In our cocoon we had no idea how to navigate Medicaid insurance. We had to figure out the safest car seat, whether we should teach our granddaughter sign language and where's the best tutorial—lots of trial and error. And we thought we were alone.

I can think of no surer way to ensure failure than to be resource-less and alone. Information isn't power—it's safety.

Thankfully, Kinship Navigation Program is at its heart information, and that means safety. Also at its heart is

support. The isolation we felt was absolute. With an outstretched hand, with compassion and knowledge, with support and with various resources to offer, we would not have felt we had to choose between retirement and childcare.

We would have known about the aid that we were entitled to for after-school and before school care; camps during the summer and school vacation. Not only would we have been informed, but we would also have been able to access community resource centers, parenting centers; we would have been able to enroll our granddaughter in activities where she would meet, and we would have met, children and adults like us, grandparents and kinship families, who were in our situation.

The simple truth is that had my husband and I known what services were out there not just for us—but for the children—our grandchildren would be together.

We would have found our tribe.

Have a KINSHIP STORY of YOUR OWN? Email us at We’d love to hear how you used YOUR VOICE to meet your family’s needs.



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