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Our Land: Saving Your Grandbaby from Your Addict Daughter

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Today’s Our Land post was written by a long-time friend and a woman that I greatly admire. My friend Sandy is amazing, brave, a wordsmith, and is raising her grandson as her own. In her former blog, she didn’t speak much of the daily life she’s living, and has decided to begin a new one, titled An Honest Sinner. There, she speaks about life, being a human, a mother, and a former addict. She’s incredible, relatable, and real. I know that you’ll adore her as much as I do. Here’s her Our Land:

Our Land: Saving Your Grandbaby from Your Addict Daughter

I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian
I’ll be your warrior of care your first warden
I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian

~ Guardian, Alanis Morissette

I opened the door and there they stood. My drug addicted daughter, who had the good sense to leave her piece of shit husband in the car, and my 3 year old grandson. My first thought is always that he looked so pale and dirty. And unhappy.

They walked in with his tiny suitcase, which I will open later and find it holds only a few items of clothing, most of which don’t fit. There were no toys. No stuffed animals. No books. Nothing offering the comforts of ‘home’.

That is likely because he didn’t have any of those things. Including a home.

She walked in to the kitchen where my husband and a notary are waiting, papers lined up on the kitchen table.

Two days prior, my daughter called me and asked me if we would take her son. They had no home. She and her husband fought all the time. He was a thief and a drug addict. Come to think of it, so was she. They needed someone to take this boy…because he’d become inconvenient.

My husband and I scrambled to find a family lawyer that could get this done quickly before she had a chance to change her mind and take off because neither of us believed this little boy would survive what was coming.

I don’t believe she doesn’t love him. I know that she does and I know the pain she was in at that moment as she approached the table and eyed the words on paper that, instead of legal jargon, said in her eyes, “I’m a failure as a mother. I am giving up the right to call my son…my son. I will have no rights to him. He will no longer be mine. I am giving up this little person who loves me more than anything, despite my faults.”

She signed the papers and with a quick goodbye, she walked out the door. She walked out the door without her son. For all intents and purposes, he was now mine.

In the midst of lawyers and judges all in a span of two days, I had made him a room in this, his new home. There was a big bed with clean sheets. There were toys offered up by my then seven-year old son. There were stuffed animals lovingly placed on the bed from the stash of my then eight-year old daughter. Clothes that my son had outgrown that I had been saving for him were now clean and folded, stored in the drawers of his very own dresser.

The delight in his eyes was heartwarming yet sad because there is something he didn’t know.

He doesn’t know she isn’t coming back. The task of telling him has been left up to me. What is worse? He doesn’t know who I am. He thinks I am a random stranger because in their whirlwind life of addiction and chaos we didn’t see him much for two years. The only time he’s ever stayed at our house overnight was the night my daughter was being arrested for shoplifting at Macy’s and I had to go pick him up so they wouldn’t call social services.

He came to live with us on September 15th, 2011. My daughter asked us to keep him for six months.

teddy-bear

He is still here.

I love him and I’m happy to have him. I think my daughter did the right thing and I never in a million years would have said no. Never.

Since the day she left, she stayed high. She’s called me suicidal and I’ve spoken to her on a cell phone, trying to find out where she is while having my mom on the land line calling 911 to send help to her. I’ve put her in rehab facilities, hospitals, and pulled strings to get her into a domestic violence shelter while her husband was sitting in jail, only to have her leave and go back to him as soon as he was freed.

For two years I raised a troubled kid, because all that he had witnessed and been subjected to had fucked him up. He was holed up in dark places with only God knows what going on, moved from place to place. The first time I put him in a bathtub to clean his dirty body and hair, he screamed like a wild animal the whole time. Why? He was three and couldn’t tell me so I had to let my imagination take flight which wasn’t a good thing. He wasn’t potty trained and wouldn’t be until well into his sixth year. He was prone to violent outbursts. He didn’t have any idea how to interact with other children. To this day he has a hard time making friends. He had no filter and no boundaries and they are minimal today, at best. As recently as this past December at a family dinner he asked me how I knew his mother. WHAT? He still has no idea how he fits in with all of us even though it’s been explained several times.

He didn’t hug. He had never been read a bedtime story. It took him two years to say I love you in response to the same. If I told him I loved him he’d say, ‘Okay’.

She filed for divorce from the asshat but didn’t leave the addict life. She did what she had to in order to feed her demon and I never saw her or heard from her. I think she was just quietly waiting to die while I quietly waited to find out she had.

Her addict lifestyle eventually caught up with her and she went to jail. Then she went to prison. The downward spiral was quick and, I’m sure, very painful.

Whether or not there is a happy ending to this story for them as mother and son remains to be seen. She was released in December 2014. She is living with her grandparents and, thanks to having a family owned business, is gainfully employed. She is working on one thing at a time, keeping her expectations low so as not to overwhelm herself with all that needs to be done to once more become a responsible member of society. She sees her son every week at our home. He deals with it the best he can, usually by becoming obnoxious, because he has no idea how to play the hand he’s been dealt.

Because it sucks.

Except for the fact that he has a very good life. It has had its challenges and not just for him. My other children have had to make adjustments over the past three and a half years and not all of them have been easy.

I had never, ever been called to the principal’s office at school. I have now. Twice.

I’d never been physically pushed into a bathtub by a four-year old. I have now.

I’d never carried a crazed screaming child across a parking lot in 100 degree weather with strangers staring at me like I was a kidnapper. I have now.

I have never felt like I’d saved someone’s life.

I do now.

I have saved somebody

He has lived with us now for what will be four years this September and there is no doubt he will be with us longer. His mom has a long way to go and being a recovering addict myself I know it’s a tough road she has ahead. I know life would be less stressful if he could just be our grandson, visiting on weekends so we could spoil him and send him home to his mother.

Sometimes that’s just not how things work.

I don’t write this so that others will stand me on a pedestal and tell me how wonderful I am. I’m no saint. I realize that my own active addiction had an impact on my daughter. I am not a victim of circumstance. I am not a victim by any stretch of the imagination.

These are consequences of a chain of addiction, silence, shame, and fear in our family history. I know I am not alone.

That is why I write this.

***

Profile Edited 1Sandy is a writer. She is also a wife and a mother, a daughter and a friend. At the end of the day if she can lay her head on the pillow and feels that she has done her best, knows she tried to do the next right thing then it is has been a good day. Learning when to hold on and when to let go will always be her challenge, but, Lord love her, she tries.

You can find the words in her heart on her blog, An Honest Sinner, where she writes about her addiction and other character flaws as well as the things that make her life unexpectedly amazing. Actually, you never really know what she’ll write about. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She’s also a founding Member/Contributor – The Sisterwives

photo credit: Teddy via photopin (license)


  • Kerri - You are definitely not a victim, but I see the hero here. Not one to be put onto a pedal stool but rather one who leads by example: in the trenches. I felt your heartbreak over losing your daughter, how you know exactly where she is in her journey and the hope you have that she finds the way back. I so admire your honesty. I hope you know that as much as this sucks, what doesn’t is remembering that look in his eye the first time he saw his new bedroom.

    Hugs for all you have gone through and all of what is to come.March 18, 2015 – 12:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kerri,
      I so hope Sandy’s daughter finds her way back to them both as well and I also so hope that the little boy finds peace with not knowing how his grandma, who is raising him, knows his mom. That’s just said and yeah, I love that he loves his room so much, too!!!March 19, 2015 – 12:15 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - I suppose my whole family is made up of heroes in this case, including the little guy for doing the best he can every day. I sometimes have to remind myself what it must be like inside his head..the confusion. While I do believe he’s happy, I don’t believe he’s carefree yet. As for my daughter, we tried for a long time with her. Now she’s an adult with the knowledge and tools to do what she needs to do if she chooses to. It came to a point where I had to do for the one who had no choices.March 19, 2015 – 9:34 amReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - Oh this breaks my heart into millions of pieces… in so many ways. Sandy, you have fought hard, battle more wars than any woman can. And you have saved a child, for the sake of another. I wish I could help you save both. Praying for hope, healing, and a triumphant ending to this story.March 18, 2015 – 1:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I wish I could save them all too Chris and get exactly what you say and want a triumphant ending to this story. Here’s to hope and healing and all of it.March 19, 2015 – 12:17 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Thanks Chris. I know you’ve read this before and I appreciate you reading it here. And I always, always appreciate your support. I think this story will go on and on. It changes every single day! As for saving them both, sometimes you just can’t and that’s a hard truth.March 19, 2015 – 9:43 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - Sandy, it’s good to see you here. We don’t know one another well, but I was sad when you left blogging. I’m glad you are back, and that you are sharing your story. I hope your daughter finds her way back to you and her son.March 18, 2015 – 1:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dana, I’m glad Sandy’s back too and agree that I so so hope and pray for a way back for her daughter to Sandy and to her daughter’s son. In the mean time, I’m just so glad he has a home and so much love.March 19, 2015 – 12:18 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Thank you, Dana! It’s good to be back. As much as I loved the first blog, it never felt genuine to me but I just missed the community so much. So when I came back I decided exactly how I wanted to do it and am happy to say I’m making it happen. I hold out hope for my daughter too. I never give it up but I know when I’ve done all I can and it’s time to let go of the reins. That part is all up to her. As for J, he’s a tough one but I think he’ll be okay.March 19, 2015 – 9:47 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - Sandy, This was so brave of you to share. It’s honest and real, and perhaps your story will help others who have a loved one battling addiction. I agree you are not a victim and I too can relate to people saying how “wonderful” or “heroic” you were. When my son was sick, of course I put him as my top priority – what mom wouldn’t? And yet, people kept praising me as a mom. Frankly, I didn’t get it. Anyway, I hope this journey continues to head in a positive direction for ALL of you.March 18, 2015 – 2:04 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily,
      I remember you saying, when LD was sick that people were all “Oh, you’re so amazing” and also get like um, what else am I going to do? It’s my kid and I’m here and that. Thank you for your awesome perspective as always and for you. And commenting.March 19, 2015 – 12:20 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Thank you, Emily. I don’t consider myself a hero and I didn’t write this for praise. I did write it in hope that someone else would read it and know they don’t struggle alone. There are so many families torn apart by addiction and I know for a fact that when you are in the middle of it you can feel like you are on a deserted island with no one to care. I also want people to know there is no shame in it. We are human, we fall and we fail. All of us.
      I am humbled that people think so much of what I’m doing but it is truly our family as a whole doing the saving here. You and I are in total agreement…what mom wouldn’t? I can’t make the choices for my 28 year old daughter but I can certainly step up to make sure that her son has a chance. It’s just what you do. There are no heroics…it’s just the right thing to do. Because I love him.March 19, 2015 – 9:57 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - WOW! I am unsure of what to write. But my heart breaks for all involved. My family is no stranger to addiction, so I know how destructive it can be. You are an angel and I hope that little boy will finally find some peace.March 18, 2015 – 2:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie, maybe there’s not much TO SAY, really. I mean, what to do? And I know this hits close to home for you with your family and so thank you for your peace wishes for Sandy and her family and for commenting, always. <3March 19, 2015 – 12:21 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Allie, I’m sorry to hear how close to home the subject of addiction hits but you and I both know we are not alone. No profound words are necessary, I just appreciate you reading and most certainly the wish for peace. I offer you the same. Thank you.March 19, 2015 – 9:59 amReplyCancel

  • Kim - I read this as a story of amazing love!!
    Sandy is a mom and grandma/mom and even though she doesn’t want to be on a pedestal I think that her actions will have a huge impact on breaking the cycle. Even though her little guy has gone through trauma and can be a challenge she is helping make his life easier in the long run.
    Thank you for sharing this – both Kristi and Sandy!!!March 18, 2015 – 2:15 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you for your comment, Kim! That recognizing that the little guy has been through so much and that his life is what matters now BUT that the other people’s lives matter TOO, and that everybody involved is doing what they can and the all of it. Thank you!March 19, 2015 – 12:23 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - It is a story of love. In the end, that’s all that matters. Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. I truly appreciate it.March 19, 2015 – 10:01 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Sandy, I was seriously just thinking about you today and then I saw you wrote here. So, I am glad that I read your whole article, as I knew some of the story from you in the past, but not the whole story. You definitely might not believe you are hero, but I know differently and would say that is exactly what you are. I really can’t say that enough and what you did for your grandson and your daughter by extension, too is just amazing in my eyes.March 18, 2015 – 2:29 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Janine. Thank you.March 19, 2015 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Janine, thank you! That means so much since you have been part of my blogging journey from the very beginning. I appreciate you reading (again!) and writing such kind words.March 19, 2015 – 9:51 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Wow Sandy – the powerful story behind the new blog name. I had wondered about the change and what it meant but I didn’t dig deeper. Thank you for sharing your story as it is. I commend your bravery and living your silence out loud.March 18, 2015 – 2:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to living silence out loud and to owning our pasts and our sins and our futures, too, right? And thanks,Kenya.March 19, 2015 – 12:25 amReplyCancel

    • Sandy - Can I just ditto Kristi’s reply because it’s so very cool! Thank you, Kenya. I appreciate the kind words.March 19, 2015 – 9:49 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - It’s important that your grandson can see some semblance of a stable life. It’s a great gift that you are giving him. Sending hugs!March 18, 2015 – 6:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - Such heartbreak and trauma..I can’t even imagine! I’m so much in awe to your strength and positivism through it all.March 18, 2015 – 8:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - My DA, you are an inspiration. No pedestal, but perhaps just a small cape, made of compassion, and perhaps a fortress of perseverence. And, like, a sword or something.

    Carry on, warrior.

    <3March 19, 2015 – 12:58 amReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I sat in front of my keyboard for a long time, trying to figure out how to comment. Things that came to me included: “thank you” and “bless you” but they don’t capture everything in my head. It was hard because I have worked in child welfare for 25 years and I know what happens to kids when they are placed with strangers instead of family. I am not talking horrible people, just people with whom there is no family connection. That connection is ineffable and can make all the difference for kids. As a parent of a child on the Autism spectrum I have gotten those phone calls from the school, carried the screaming child certain the police are going to show up, and been hit and kicked. In the end, “thank you” and “bless you,” pretty much sums it up I guess. 🙂March 19, 2015 – 2:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandra Sallin - Beautiful! I thinkeveryone’s comments say it all. Just wanted to know you are heard and appreciated.March 19, 2015 – 5:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Wow. Powerful story. I loved every single word. Thank you for sharing, but I’m so sorry you (and your little guy) have to go through so much pain. My heart goes out to you.March 20, 2015 – 5:10 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Wow. Powerful story. I loved every single word. Thank you for sharing, but I’m so sorry you (and your little guy) have to go through so much pain. My heart goes out to you.March 20, 2015 – 5:11 amReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Donnell - This is, as you might remember from my post on Sisterwives this is a post very close to my heart and under my skin. I can’t imagine how it would’ve been had my son had a child. You’re a hero. And somewhere, underneath it all, your daughter possesses mother love. She did the best thing for her child under the most hideous circumstances. So, I salute her too. And hope, hope, hope, she finds her way out. Love to you, my friend and fellow mom of a substance abuser.March 20, 2015 – 1:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Donnell - A post that will break, and warm, your heart all at the same time. Sandy Ramsey guests on Finding NineeMarch 20, 2015 – 5:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Wow Sandy – that’s some story and so beautifully written. I have to catch up with your new blog and I’m happy that there is one. My favorite part is this:

    “I have never felt like I’d saved someone’s life.

    I do now.”March 20, 2015 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel the Alien - I have known many, many children whose parents had these types of problems, both when working in schools and in my personal life. in many cases for the children the possibilities for the future will be either, to continue being raised in this type of environment and hopefully survive, or to take their chances in foster care. I am always thinking, “I wish there was someone who could rescue that child.” Sandy, I am glad your grandson has you… and also, I am certain it is helpful to your daughter to know that, by giving her son to you, where he will be safe and cared for and loved, she acted like a good mother. I suspect she remembers that you were a good mother to her, and she wanted her boy to have the same.March 20, 2015 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Blessing - All your words resonate with me. I have two daughters adopted through foster care. I knew their biological parents and seeing their self-imposed insanity was heartbreaking. I pray your daughter continues to make healthy choices, just I pray each day that my daughters’ biological parents do the same.March 22, 2015 – 4:07 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life - I had tears in my eyes the entire time I was reading this. I can’t even imagine this. But that little boy now has a chance thanks to you, Sandy. Bless you.March 22, 2015 – 7:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Gerald Hileman - You are very brave. Thank you for sharing this story and for being an inspiration for the rest of us. No pedestals, since warriors rarely sit on those. But I’m sending love from behind my monitor to yours.

    Have a good life 🙂 Seven blessings to you!July 11, 2015 – 9:22 amReplyCancel

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