Participants: Cheri Peters (Host), Annette Washington, Pam Talley
Series Code: CLR
Program Code: CLR000102B
00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues
00:03 related to addictive behavior.
00:05 Parents are cautioned that some material
00:06 may be too candid for younger children.
00:15 Welcome back.
00:16 I want to--for people that just tuned in,
00:19 we're talking about "Grandparent as Parents."
00:21 So what does that look like,
00:23 what are the needs to help prevalent this.
00:25 We're just looking at all this.
00:26 But on this segment I want to introduce you to Annette.
00:29 And we're gonna talk about your story,
00:31 because you're raising you grandparents--
00:33 I mean your grandchildren.
00:35 Yes. Okay.
00:36 So talk about your name and where did you come from?
00:38 Who are you?
00:40 Hi. My name is Annette Washington.
00:41 I'm from Saint Louis and I'm a grandmother of 19.
00:48 Nineteen. But I'm raising five.
00:51 And when you talk about five, because we talked earlier,
00:53 they're not from the same family.
00:56 No. Okay.
00:57 Two sister's kids. Okay.
01:00 And so tell us a little bit about your journey, your family,
01:07 your upbringing and then we'll get into
01:11 how you got to were you accepted.
01:13 You're now with your sister's kid,
01:14 raising your sister's kids.
01:15 Well, I mean, I guess you mean, like my mom--
01:19 Yeah, sisters, brothers you have--
01:22 Now it's a five girls, five girls now.
01:28 It was a seven-- total seven kids.
01:33 I lost a brother some years ago. Okay.
01:39 He was the only boy and I lost a sister
01:42 to diabetes about 3 years ago.
01:47 Okay. And so when did you first--
01:51 do you have your own children?
01:53 Oh, yes. I have four girls and two boys.
01:59 So you have a big family. Oh, yes. I love kids.
02:02 Okay. All right.
02:03 So my eldest is 36 and my baby is 28
02:09 and actually I am raising two youngest girl kids.
02:13 And so when--when you have your own children,
02:16 because I am thinking about the grandparents as parents,
02:18 so when you had your own children,
02:20 they were a point where they're--
02:21 they're leaving the house
02:23 and you're kind of thinking on your own.
02:26 Would did you ever had that time?
02:32 Not really. Well, my baby,
02:38 I mean, the other kids were grown and left,
02:41 I mean, she pretty much stuck up on to me.
02:45 Okay. I mean she was true mama's baby.
02:49 But eventually, she left,
02:53 moved out, but she came back so--
02:57 Okay. And then how did you--
02:59 when did your first grandchildren
03:01 come to live with you?
03:02 And why was that?
03:04 The first one was Jasmine, she's a teen,
03:08 so--first really got home when she was 9 months old
03:14 'cause my daughter got into some trouble,
03:18 so--I end up with her, so--
03:22 At nine months, so you-- Nine months.
03:24 She's been with you a long time.
03:25 Basically, yes, yes, yes, over long, yes.
03:29 And, you know, my daughter
03:31 kept having issues and issues,
03:34 so I mean I just kept her--I mean,
03:38 at one time moved her and her mom there, but so--
03:43 And so when Pamela was talking about,
03:46 you know, everything kind of changes
03:47 and you just do the best you can,
03:49 financially and in every kind of way.
03:51 Yep, yes. Oh, yes.
03:53 I mean it's my, 6-year-old, her name is Jaira.
03:58 I got her when she was three days old.
04:02 I actually went to the hospital and got her
04:04 because my daughter had got into some trouble,
04:08 so I joggled to the prison hospital and got her.
04:12 So she had her right in prison. Yes.
04:15 Okay. And so you took her right from prison to your house.
04:17 Yes, I did.
04:18 You know, what I want to say,
04:20 thank God for grandmother.
04:22 That's what I wanted to say. Yes.
04:23 Because you know what was really interesting
04:25 is she could have been taken anywhere,
04:27 but she was taken to your house
04:29 and you were there saying,
04:32 you know, "This is what I got to do."
04:34 Oh, yes. And--I mean I have a good family support system
04:40 because at the time, actually, I was living in Chicago.
04:44 I had to drive from Chicago to Saint Louis, Mexico Zoo,
04:50 to pick her up because they only gave me
04:54 three days to get there-- so as I.
04:58 And if you weren't there in three days,
04:59 what would have happened?
05:00 They're gonna turn over to the state.
05:02 Right. And so--
05:04 And that's what people need to hear is that--
05:07 there is a lot of grandparents have said,
05:09 you know, "If I don't step in,
05:12 I have no idea where this child of mine--"
05:15 "This--my grandbaby is gonna end up,
05:17 so I have to step in."
05:19 Right. I mean because that would have really,
05:21 wherever it means, okay, where is my grandbaby?
05:25 Who's getting my grandbaby?
05:26 And actually this-- I got her brother, he's eight.
05:32 I got a phone call in the middle of the night and you know--
05:36 you know, how you just get a frantic phone call,
05:39 you know--you know, something is wrong.
05:41 It was like 11:30 or so.
05:43 Before they could finish the conversation.
05:45 I say, "you have my daughter, don't you?"
05:49 So they say, "Yes, ma'am."
05:50 So they say, we have your grandson
05:53 and then he was eight months old.
05:55 So, they said, they have run a background check
06:01 on his dad already and his dad, couldn't get him.
06:05 So be-- before she got a chance to
06:07 for the counsel that how we address.
06:09 I'll be right there. Exactly. Right, right.
06:12 So she said "Ma'am, just, calm down, just calm down.
06:17 We have to run a background check on--
06:22 you before you get your grandson."
06:23 I said what? So she said yes.
06:25 I say "okay, do it."
06:27 So by the time she called me back,
06:29 it took like a hour or so for her to call me back
06:33 but when she called me back I was just in the car.
06:39 So--so she said we're gonna give you
06:41 till 4:30 to make it to 4:10.
06:45 I was coming from South city Saint Louis
06:49 and drive it at 4:10 to get him.
06:53 Wow. And so-- what you're saying is that,
06:55 you know, there is each of these children,
06:58 you really said, "I have no choice."
07:02 "I--so I have to go and pick them up,
07:04 I have to bring them.
07:05 I have to make it work." Yes.
07:07 Did you know how it's gonna work?
07:08 No, I wouldn't worry about that then.
07:10 Yeah. You know--I mean.
07:11 Who what? Right.
07:13 When I--they, you know,
07:17 so it was, I can't worry about that.
07:19 I mean somehow I'd to give, I mean,
07:23 those are my babies, I mean.
07:24 Amen. So, you know, to me when you say that
07:27 "I couldn't worry about that."
07:29 You know, do you wish
07:30 the whole world could hear that statement?
07:32 Yeah, I mean because--
07:33 If someone could help us, that would be great.
07:36 But I can't worry about that.
07:38 Yeah, and I mean I have been blessed.
07:42 I mean they've never been in the system.
07:46 So I mean it's--and that's some of the problem now,
07:50 they don't want to help you unless
07:52 they've been in the system, so it's kind of...
07:56 And if they go into the system, there's gonna be
07:58 a whole another set of emotional behavioral problems.
08:00 Exactly, exactly.
08:02 And you're saying "I don't want
08:03 my grandchildren to feel that, to know that."
08:05 Right, right. I mean-- But the funds are tied to that.
08:10 Okay, but my issue with that is,
08:14 if you take them and put them in the system
08:16 and I come get him from the system.
08:18 You still will have to take care of them.
08:22 I mean so why not just give me the money
08:24 now versus take me through all it.
08:27 And you're not talking about money.
08:30 And said, yeah, I want to be rich.
08:32 You're talking about food and healthcare.
08:34 Believe me, you won't get much offered.
08:36 Yeah. Well, you know what,
08:37 I think that when somebody says that,
08:40 you know, we're talking basic necessities,
08:42 we're not talking about, you know, extra stuff,
08:45 money in your pocket kind of thing.
08:47 There will never be extra, never.
08:50 And that--but I, you know,
08:51 I think the reason I want to say that out loud
08:52 as I think some people have the misconception
08:55 that it's not a need.
08:58 This is a huge need.
08:59 Some of these kids are-- like I have met
09:01 some of these children that are just the most beautiful kids.
09:05 And they really are being loved on in.
09:07 You know, they're doing well in school
09:09 and they're being sent off
09:10 and everybody is doing the right thing.
09:13 But sometimes the utilities aren't being paid. Right.
09:15 You know, and so that's you're talking basic, basic stuff.
09:19 Yeah, I mean, yeah, because, it's like,
09:22 you know, you have to feed the kids.
09:26 I mean it's like sometimes you face a choice of
09:31 drop at the gas, or drop at the grocery.
09:33 Can I take $200 of the gas,
09:36 and I hope they don't turn the gas off.
09:38 I mean, I have been there. Yeah.
09:41 And what's really tough about that too is I know that for--
09:45 and I don't know about you but for a lot of people
09:47 that's hard to even say out loud.
09:49 Yes. And yet you need someone to hear that.
09:53 It is, I mean, I had to go through a whole lot,
09:59 even when oldest one Jas, I want to sign her
10:02 up for a school, pre-school,
10:05 you know, the first thing that you hear, "Where's the mom?
10:09 Where's the mom?" I am the mom.
10:12 You know, I am the mom.
10:13 So and so in the end, I had to call to the prison there.
10:19 Have my daughter Simi notarize a letter.
10:23 So that you can get her in school.
10:24 Yeah, to give me guardianship of her
10:27 and to get her in a school.
10:29 And so--you know, to me all of that,
10:31 all of that stuff and you're talking about those
10:33 the three youngest ones, you've had pretty much since--
10:36 But you have two more now. Yes.
10:39 And when did you get them and what was the circumstances?
10:43 November last year, my daughter was murdered.
10:51 She was shot. I'm so sorry.
10:55 Thank you. She would have been 30 St. Patrick's Day.
11:01 But she was shot.
11:04 And this is a random thing. It wasn't that she was doing.
11:08 No, no. She wasn't--
11:11 actually, her and her friend had went out
11:15 and they stopped there at this after hours club
11:19 and my daughter friend, she had altercation with someone
11:25 and lady, she had altercation with,
11:28 she left and when, no--
11:31 her friend left and when they got to go
11:34 and came start shooting her.
11:37 And so you, not only that tragedy
11:39 and that when you told me this earlier,
11:41 I thought, you know, not only that tragedy
11:43 but then you got your daughter's two children
11:46 which are preteens. Yes.
11:48 Dealing with their loss, dealing with your loss
11:52 and having five kids to raise with all of that financial stuff
11:56 and I looked to you and I think you know what?
11:58 I bet, you haven't even had time to take a breath hardly.
12:01 No. Far or less grieve this.
12:04 And I just tell them all time I know,
12:11 grandma, first but yes, bare with me and just--
12:16 We'll get through this--
12:17 Yes, yes, but they know, they just say
12:20 "Oh, she just fussing now".
12:23 But, you know, they know because they are my world,
12:27 they are what I live and breathe for, I mean--
12:29 And you got them into counseling.
12:31 You're doing the best you can
12:33 with the limited resources that you have.
12:35 Yes, we've limited. Right.
12:37 And there is--and I just want to say this again
12:39 'cause Pamela had talked about this earlier.
12:40 There is really no place where you can go and say,
12:43 "Can you help us with these funds?"
12:47 With the counseling, did you get
12:48 any victims funds for the counseling?
12:51 Well, actually the victim of crime
12:56 is paying for the counseling. Okay, good.
12:58 They say they have a limit of $2,500 pay for a counseling
13:06 which is fine because I mean,
13:08 I think there are two angry kids.
13:13 You know, they are male,
13:14 I mean, they are angry, I mean, right,
13:17 I mean, it's like they all know what to do
13:22 and I mean, you know, I just tell them every day,
13:26 "Grandma's here as long--work out--
13:29 it's gonna be all right."
13:31 And I just want to say for all--
13:34 some kids in that same circumstances
13:36 would be than have put in foster care
13:38 with people they don't even know. Right.
13:40 The fact that they can look at a family member.
13:43 Right, right, you know, I just,
13:45 I mean, I have to take care of them.
13:49 I mean, they got me,
13:51 you know, I mean, I don't--
13:53 I mean, I couldn't even function knowing
13:56 that somebody else will have to take care.
13:59 I mean, I couldn't even function,
14:01 I mean, yeah, doing without them,
14:04 I mean, I need some money firstly,
14:06 I mean, I need somebody to talk to, I mean.
14:12 And, you know, my three young's one, you would,
14:16 I mean, just by talking to them,
14:20 you can tell that an older person is raising them.
14:23 I mean, I had to teach them
14:24 how they get on a bus and for tram,
14:28 I mean, look for the number 10 bus--
14:31 So they have learned that right from the time they were little.
14:34 They know. Yeah.
14:36 They know. Yeah.
14:38 And so-- and this is a question
14:42 that probably you don't ask yourself much.
14:45 But what about you?
14:47 I mean, no, I mean I don't actually myself,
14:50 I mean, my daughter asks me all the time.
14:52 she says, "Mommy, you got to take care of you,
14:54 I mean, but who's gonna take care of them?"
14:56 I mean-- Right.
14:58 I enjoy taking care of them.
15:00 If I had to do over again, I would do it over.
15:02 Right. But I mean--
15:04 But do you have to kind of fight
15:09 for that decision that you made?
15:10 Do you have to make so that your other kids know
15:13 that you're okay with the decision
15:16 that you've made that this is what I have to do?
15:19 Does anybody say, you know what,
15:20 that's enabling and you shouldn't do this?
15:23 You know, you know, actually I've had
15:26 couple of people say that, well, you know, and they,
15:30 "You got three already, how're you gonna do five?"
15:35 Just like I deal with three.
15:38 Exactly, you don't even ask yourself that,
15:40 how could I ask myself that.
15:42 Yeah, it's like when--okay, if I had one slice of bread,
15:47 well, cut down to six.
15:49 I mean six slice of bread,
15:51 I mean, I just I can't think about that,
15:54 I mean, because I would waste time to think about it
15:59 and I mean I just can't worry about that.
16:01 I mean I don't even-- I don't even--
16:04 It's not even an option-- No.
16:05 To think about that? No.
16:07 So when did you find out about "Grandparents as Parents"
16:10 that organization and how did you get involved in that one?
16:13 There's a funny story.
16:16 Me and three young's one,
16:19 we was in a grocery store, shopping.
16:21 You know, I tell them,
16:24 okay, look for something that's on sale.
16:27 In the papers I get the coupons so--
16:31 So they learned to do that young?
16:33 They know. Yes.
16:35 So, we was in the store and a lady was in front of us.
16:40 And she really stopped doing what she was doing,
16:45 looked back at us,
16:46 I mean, at first I was wondering
16:48 what she looking at, you know?
16:50 But it--she said, "Are those your grandkids?"
16:54 I said, "Aha, yes."
16:56 She said, "They are so amenable.
16:58 I see, they know it,
17:00 I mean, they know how to act, you know."
17:02 She said, "I am just so--"
17:05 What I--so each of them had coupons to give you
17:08 and so she was hearing that. Yeah.
17:10 The whole conversation. Yeah.
17:12 And she was because--
17:14 they know, you know, at the time it was four of us,
17:18 so they know to get four bananas,
17:23 four oranges, four apples, so--
17:25 And everybody gets one. Yeah. Yes.
17:28 And so she was saying to you,
17:30 "That's pretty amazing to watch."
17:31 Yes. And actually she gave me her sister's number Pam tallied
17:38 her number and was telling me,
17:40 you know, they-- she may be able to help me
17:44 and able to-- so I called her.
17:46 Exactly. So I mean, and they've been helping me since then.
17:50 It's been a few years now.
17:53 Okay, one thing that I know is that
17:56 now you're also helping them. Oh, yes.
17:58 So, you know, so it's interesting to me
18:02 that not only did you call to get support
18:06 and find out what they are doing
18:07 and all that kind of stuff, but then you said to Pam,
18:10 what can I do to help you guys?
18:12 And so do you work in the office?
18:13 Do you volunteer with that organization now?
18:17 Yes, I do. I mean, I earn--
18:20 and I mean, I really like my job.
18:23 I mean, you think I was making $40 an hour
18:29 but because I get there on the bus.
18:34 I mean, I like it, I mean, it's not all about the money.
18:38 I mean, Pam is really teaching me different skills
18:43 'cause I knew nothing about computers.
18:46 Right. Now I do.
18:48 Right. You know, I am learning.
18:49 And to work in an organization
18:53 that gives grandparents a voice, that's got to feel good?
18:56 Oh yes. Yes.
18:57 I mean because I am walking in those shoes.
19:01 I mean, I was 47 years old
19:04 banned for pull ups and vibes, I mean, I--
19:08 There's something so not right about that
19:10 but, you know, you do what you do.
19:13 Yeah, and I think that my kids were just was worried
19:17 because of my health issues.
19:20 I mean, I've had like
19:25 10 surgeries since '04.
19:29 I am on my second pacemaker
19:32 and I have a form of leukemia but God is good.
19:39 I mean, I just ask God to give me my sight,
19:44 sense and strength enough to see
19:46 these kids till they get grown.
19:47 Exactly, and that's what a lot of grandparents
19:50 throughout the country are asking us
19:52 who're raising their grandbabies is that
19:54 I can't even slow down
19:55 to look at what's happening with me physically
19:58 because there's a need that has to happen out here. Right.
20:00 And I have to say we're gonna open it up for questions
20:04 but I have to just say to you is that God blessed you
20:07 for making that decision.
20:09 And I really understand the fact
20:11 that I will have time to look at all these other stuff
20:14 whether we can afford it or not,
20:15 whether I am well or not,
20:17 whether, you know, I need another surgery or not,
20:19 is that who is going to take care of this.
20:22 And that's the voice of a lot of grandparents right now.
20:24 And that's what your organization is trying
20:28 to find out as what is the need
20:29 and how can we meet that need.
20:30 Yeah, I mean, it's like you see
20:34 so many grandparents raising grandkids,
20:38 you know, it's not a black issue,
20:40 it's not a white issue. I mean it's a--
20:44 It's not an economy issue.
20:45 Right, right. It's a issue.
20:46 I mean I've seen grandparents younger than me,
20:52 you know, carrying their grandkids to school.
20:55 I mean, I was 47-years-old taking my baby to preschool
21:00 so I had to do it, I mean--
21:05 You do what you have to do. Yes.
21:06 We're gonna open it up for questions right now.
21:08 So--and I know that there's few people in the cafe right now
21:14 that have been raised by grandparents
21:16 and have that same-- those same kind of issues.
21:19 And so I'd like to stay on that topic
21:22 and Pam, I am gonna bring you up after the break.
21:27 And so you can kind of close it for us. Okay.
21:30 And you know the first person, Ronald, do you had the--
21:33 you had a comment that
21:35 I thought was really interesting,
21:36 so go ahead and share with us.
21:39 Well, I'm a layman and my experience in life
21:46 sort of fits into what you've been talking about.
21:50 As a child, I was born but I never knew my father.
21:56 He left my mother before I was born.
22:00 And so I grew up living with my grandmother and my mother
22:06 and both of them had to work.
22:09 So they send me out to somebody when they went to work
22:13 and then I came home when they came home.
22:17 But then when I started to go to school,
22:23 I would leave with my mother
22:26 and take a bus into the Lancaster
22:31 and then the bus out to Grand Duo Heights
22:35 because that's where my aunt
22:36 want to me to go to school, a new school.
22:40 But it was on the other side of the Lancaster.
22:43 And then my mother, when she came back
22:47 from work at a watch factory,
22:50 she would come and get me and then we go home on a bus.
22:55 And before that though when she was working,
22:59 when she would go to work,
23:01 we can go up and then to Willow street
23:05 and then she dropped me off at an army--not an army,
23:08 Mennonite home and they kept me.
23:11 Then when she'd come home,
23:12 she get me and we'd walk down and walk back to the house.
23:17 And grandma's house was always there.
23:20 Yeah. Well, until my mother got remarried.
23:25 But I never even knew what a father was.
23:29 What's really interesting, Ronald, is to add,
23:32 in what we're talking about is sometimes from early on
23:37 we were raised by parents and grandparents
23:39 but, you know, when I look at you and you say--
23:41 Ronald, you said, you were raised that way,
23:43 is that this is not a new issue.
23:46 This is not something that just happened.
23:48 I think it is getting to where more and more
23:51 grandparents are raising kids but it always has been--
23:55 Maybe just hid of being-- It was way hid.
23:59 They want to talk about,
24:00 maybe they thought it was a shame,
24:01 you know, they just don't want to talk about it.
24:04 Right. There's still some shame attached to it.
24:07 It is. It is.
24:09 But not as much as, as at one time.
24:11 And I love the fact that the more we talk about it,
24:13 the less shame and the more
24:15 somebody can actually do something, you know.
24:18 It is a population that needs a response from the community.
24:23 I mean it because we keep it here, who knows,
24:26 I mean, if you need help,
24:28 you know, they don't know unless you speak up.
24:31 Exactly. Asheley, you had a question.
24:35 Yeah, I was thinking back to my own personal experience
24:39 and how my grandparents kind of raised me off and on.
24:42 It's not like I think for a lot of parent--
24:46 grandparents out there,
24:47 may be it's not a permanent thing like with your situation.
24:51 May be it's kind of, you know,
24:53 where they have the kids for a while
24:54 and then they don't have them for a while.
24:56 And that's just is really unstable thing
24:58 and then how do you cope
24:59 as a grandparent with not knowing
25:02 if you're gonna have the child,
25:04 you know, for a long period of time or they gonna go back
25:06 and live with their parents.
25:08 Well, actually my three young's one,
25:11 my daughter send them over to me again.
25:17 What she did was when she was locked up,
25:23 she signed temporary guardianship over to me.
25:27 So I can get them in school but when she came home,
25:30 actually, she just redone the papers in 2009.
25:36 She say, she wasn't ready for it yet.
25:39 But she got four more kids. So but--
25:44 So now that you have permanent custody.
25:47 When--but Asheley, you were saying
25:51 when the children come and go emotionally
25:54 what does that do to the grandparent?
25:58 What does that do to,
25:59 you know, you really can't plan on anything?
26:02 Well, I mean, well, actually, I haven't had to go
26:06 through that problem yet and I hope I don't but--
26:11 I know that I wish you've had
26:14 similar situation than like that.
26:16 So you've had an adoptive grandchild
26:19 not necessarily your own grandchild
26:20 but speak a little bit about when she comes and goes.
26:23 Yeah, I mean, I've had her twice.
26:27 And she's like my own granddaughter.
26:29 I mean, I am her surrogate grandparents.
26:31 And when she comes, I have to recognize the fact
26:35 that she's not going to be there with us.
26:37 But at the same time I have to treat her
26:39 like she's going to be there with me forever.
26:42 I mean, I can't assume anything.
26:45 But when it gets closer with someone
26:47 you know when it's coming.
26:49 I mean, you have an idea
26:50 that they are going to let her go back
26:52 or she's going to go back.
26:53 And so you first start preparing your mind for it.
26:55 You really have to because otherwise you're not gonna--
26:59 I mean it hurts when they walk-- when they're going back.
27:04 But you also want them to be together as a family
27:07 and that's what makes it little bit easier.
27:09 Exactly and so we're gonna take a break
27:11 and bring Pamela back up.
27:13 But, you know, I love the fact
27:15 what everybody shared is that you can't do anything
27:18 other than step in and try to help in your family.
27:21 You really do have to recognize the pain
27:24 like what Iris was saying
27:26 of having a child come and go from your life.
27:28 And I am hoping that we're part of allowing this group
27:32 to have some what of a voice.
27:34 They need some help even if it's a good job,
27:38 can I baby sit? Can I give you a break?
27:40 I mean any of those kind of things.
27:41 But we're gonna be right back.
27:43 I am gonna bring Pamela back up and I know that we're gonna get
27:46 a little bit more information, so stay with us.