Keith Lowhorne and Irene Clements

Irene Clements interviews her colleague Keith Lowhorne about the learning curve he had raising three grandchildren during COVID-19 and his advice for other grandfamilies.

Irene: You never know where you’re going to wind up, but I know with foster families, we know a lot about how difficult it was when the kids were at home and they had to do the educational pieces because they couldn’t go anywhere. It was very hard to get some of the therapies that the kids had been getting because they couldn’t go to the therapists’ office anymore, whether OT, PT, or speech and language, besides the mental health counseling, so did y’all experience kind of hiccups like that in your routine?

Keith: Of course, it was a learning curve for all of us. We were more worried about the kindergartener because he was getting used to getting up and he loved going to school. We were worried to the point when we first started, does he get on the school bus or did we have to take him? We tried the school bus and it was like lo and behold, he wouldn’t do anything. He would run to the school bus to get on it, he would run to get off of it in the afternoons. We were like, “Oh yeah, this is going to be good” because that takes a lot of stress off you just right there… so when all of a sudden school ended, it was like, Oh Lord, what do we do? Here’s this boy who is in a world that only he can understand sometimes and he’s not going to be able to go to school, his school was beyond fantastic. His teacher was beyond fantastic.

Irene: Do you have ideas of that you could share with others that may be listening to this interview that would help them? Either if they’ve already made the decision to take in their grandchildren or relative kids, or if they’re thinking about it? They know more that may be coming up for us because of what they’re observing with one of their children or their niece’s or nephew’s kids or something like that. Have you got any tips or pointers that you could give?

Keith: Yeah, I think the best advice I got is don’t give up. If you’ve made the decision that you’re going for those kids, then nothing can stop you. If you’ve decided that the best thing can happen is for you to take those kids, then you need to go for it and just do it. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t let your past life, or don’t let the way you live, don’t let the neighborhood you live in control how you’re going to be with these kids.

Keith: Yes, our lives changed dramatically three years ago from what it was supposed to be and what we had intended it to be. But we wake up every morning with a purpose, and we go to bed at night and we know that these kids are safe.


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